After sitting for most of the first quarter, Gianattasio scored 10 in the second, leading the Spartans on a 20-0 run that saw them build a 32-18 lead at the half.
“It was tough not starting, but I knew the team would get it done and when I got in I just wanted to do whatever I could to help us win,” Gianattasio said. “This was a huge win for us. It was ugly, but our goal is to win the league and we couldn’t afford to lose this one if we want to achieve our goal.”
The Spartans — who got 14 points and seven rebounds from Luke Creditt — got comfortable with the halftime lead, which led to sloppiness.
Preble Shawnee, behind Dakota Bennett who finished with 15 points and six rebounds, cut the lead to four midway through the fourth quarter. Three-point shots by Jesse Adams (12 points) and Austin Jarbo (nine) kept pressure on the Spartans, but key baskets by Gianattasio and Ryan Potter held the Arrows at bay down the stretch.
“They came at us with their pressure and traps and we didn’t make good decisions with the basketball in the second half,” Waynesville coach Todd Cook said. “It was ugly, and we have a lot of things to improve on, but we’re thankful to get a win.”
Preble Shawnee played most of the game without forward Cameron Letner who sprained an ankle early in the first half. Coach Ellis said he is doubtful for the Arrows’ next game on Tuesday against Northridge.
“A game like this is a double-edged sword,” Ellis said. “I’m excited that the team didn’t fold when we were down as much as we were at the half, but it hurts to come back that far and not pull it off. Sometimes, when you have to dig out of a hole that deep, you run out of gas at the end.”