Once the Staples boys basketball team found its groove, it took control of the game Sunday.

Staples struggled during the first half but picked up the pace after the break in a 50-40 victory over Joel Barlow in the DeSantis Basketball Academy Summer Basketball League at Christian Heritage School. With the win, the Summer Wreckers raised their record to 4-2. Barlow dropped to 2-4.

"I don't think we played a great team game, but we played good team defense, which kept us in the game," Staples senior captain Mike Argosh said. "We came out slowly, which happens, but we picked up the intensity."

The Summer Wreckers trailed for most of the first half with their deficit reaching seven, 18-11 in the waning moments of the half. Classmate Isaac Stein (two points, five rebounds, one blocked shot) was an inside force and helped cut the deficit with a putback off the offensive glass. Stein also had a blocked shot late in the half and Argosh's layup with no time left, cut the deficit to four, 20-16, which started an 11-0 surge.

Apparently, Argosh's layup gave Staples momentum. Junior James Frusciante (five points, three rebounds, two assists, two forced turnovers) opened the second half with a three-point play. The Summer Wreckers took the lead for good when junior lefty Ross Whelan (four points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals, two forced turnovers) intercepted a pass and went coast-to-coast for a layup.

Argosh (11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, three forced turnovers) was a force all game, including seven points in the first half. After grabbing a defensive rebound, he sent an outlet pass to junior Pete Rankowitz, who laid it in.

Speaking of Rankowitz, who was in the regular rotation during the season for Staples along with Argosh and five seniors who graduated, is expected to be one of the top two players on the team along with Argosh. After scoring no points in the first half, Rankowitz (12 points, eight rebounds, three assists, four steals, three forced turnovers) came alive in the second half.

"We just stepped up our defense, which led to open shots," Rankowitz said.

Following his layup from the captain, Rankowitz capped the run with a coast-to-coast layup off an interception. In fact, this wasn't his only big defensive play of the half. Rankowitz had two steals and a forced turnover off inbounds plays, which prevented the Summer Falcons from scoring.

"I was stepping into the passing lanes and taking a little risk," Rankowitz said.

Barlow tried to inch back in but Rankowitz swished two 3-pointers to extend the Summer Wreckers' lead to 10, 35-25. Senior Vasili Tziolis (one point, two assists, two steals) set up one of his treys.

The Summer Falcons countered with a 5-0 run to close within five, 35-30 with 7:10 left in the game, but Frusciante had a crucial defensive rebound to stop Barlow from making it a one-possession game. Senior Pat Kohlmann scored on a putback off the offensive glass and hit the free throw to complete the 3-point play, which made it 38-30 and started a 10-0 surge to make it 45-30.

"Hustle, you have to play each possession hard and never take a play off," Kohlmann said.

Kohlmann (10 rebounds, three steals, two forced turnovers) scored 11 of his team-high 13 points in the second half and had a 3-pointer rim in after receiving a feed from classmate Mike Garrity (two points, two assists, one blocked shot, one forced turnover).

"I got the lucky bounce," Kohlmann said.

After Staples capped the run, the Summer Falcons answered with five points, but Kohlmann closed them out with five points. He drew a foul on an attempted trey and hit all three free throws and laid it in from Rankowitz. Junior Levon Oztemel (one assist, one forced turnover) set up the attempted trifecta which led to the foul.

Moreover, the Summer Wreckers are accomplishing what they are supposed to -- which is to gain experience and be ready when the games count in December.

"Pat, Frusciante and Livan pitched in and played a great team game," Argosh said. "This is a part of the process in getting better as a team and we'll be ready when the season comes along."