Cooper at Spring Lake Park Thoughts

So after Cooper won the 1st meeting 85-81, it looked like the North Suburban could come down to this game. SLP had only lost 1 game out of 13 (the Cooper game) before losing back to back games over the last week to North Suburban contenders BSM (sans Peter Crawford) and Columbia Heights. So much for the conference race. But Rene Pulley is in the building for the 2nd half (probably watched the 1st half of Heights and Fridley just down the street) so life is all good despite only having 2 officials for this one.

Interesting matchups early as Joe Bright gets the assignment on SLP's Sean Jensen. Jensen gets the task of defending Rodney Williams. Rodney opens with a loose ball for a dunk, follows with 2 free throws and then makes the 3 ball in the side pocket for 7 quick points. Timeout Spring Lake Park as they're down 14-6 3 minutes into the game. Spring Lake Park with a 9-2 run out of the timeout and they do it in 2:20. Jensen with an assist and then a tip in to conclude the run. Cooper cranks up the running game as they go off for a 18-2 run over 5 and a half minutes. Kenquane Brown, Joe Bright and Quincy Bethea all with triples during the run. Cooper coach Dave Johnson telling his team to not dribble, so Rodney Williams promptly drives for 2. He then gets a steal and looks for the showtime breakaway dunk but Tim Weigelt prevents that with the hard foul and Joe Bright isn't happy about it. After the zebras get together, its an intentional foul. Rodney misses the 2 freebies and on the possession he takes his anger out on a 1 handed follow dunk that would have been amazing had he made it. Jamal Roberts off the bench does score on the post while Cooper retains the ball. The lead has ballooned to 38-20 with 4:45 left in the half. Y (Tyler Ylvisaker) with 3 of SLPs 5 triples in the half to keep the Panthers from getting totally blown out. 51-35 Hawks at the half. Sean Jensen with 6 points on 3-12 shooting on my sheet. Elijah Sabah with 7 points for SLP. 4 players with 8 or more for Cooper. Rodney Williams with 9 points on 3-5 shooting and 3 blocks.

No early traction for SLP. Rodney with a short jumper and Bright with a postup on Jensen and the lead is 17 at 15:55. 2 SLP buckets countered by a Bethea 3. Sabah with a triple and then a bad shot. Cooper runs out for a Bethea layup and its 69-51 Hawks with 11:05 to play. SLP with some half court traps now. That's part of a 13-4 SLP run that Y ends with a 3. 73-64 Cooper with 7:33 left and somehow this game is back to being competitive. Bright with a kick out of the post to Burton for a right wing jumper. Rodney with a blocked shot for a runout for Kenquane Brown. 7-2 SLP in points before a Brown triple pushes the lead back into double digits. 82-71 wiht 5:25 left. SLP with 4 in a row and Rodney gets Jensen in the post (1st time all night) and steps on the end line. Jensen can't convert a FT line jumper on the other end. Cooper takes time with 3:20 left and you'd think that clock management came up. Bethea counters a Scott 3 with a quick 3 of his own at 2:30, Brown puts back a quick Cooper miss inside of 2 minutes. After a SLP layup, they take time with 1:36 left down 89-82. They'll get no closer. Rodney with an alley-hoop dunk to finish it and the Hawks win 93-84.

For Spring Lake Park, Sean Jensen with 22 points and I had 6 assists on my sheet. 9-23 shooting on my sheet means 6-11 in the 2nd half. Trey Scott with 18 points and 5 rebounds. Y with 17 points on 5 of SLPs 11 triples. A nice adjustment vs the Cooper zone (more on this in the Cooper section) to move Sean Jensen into the middle and post area after initially having Sabah at the high post area. They settled for lots of 3s (having Rodney back there will do that). I still see too much of Jensen being forced to make everything happen. Lots of high screen roll in the 1st half to Jensen's left hand but I liked better a weave action they showed briefly in the 2nd half. Very disappointing how Cooper was able to run out on rebounds too as they did a poor job of getting back. Despite 3 losses in a row now, road wins over St. Louis Park and St. Francis next week should secure the #1 seed in section 3AAA. But that section is wide open as you'll see when I do my section previews next weekend (hint, hint).

For Cooper, great balance as they get 5 guys in double figures. Quincy Bethea with 14 of his 24 points in the 2nd half. Kenquane Brown with 21 points and I had him for 8 rebounds. Rodney Williams with 16 points. On my unofficial sheet for him, I had 11 rebounds, 5 blocks and 6-11 shooting with 2 missed dunks (granted 1 was the monster anger-management dunk described earlier). They were very fortunate their 3-2 zone didn't get exploited worse. A huge hole at the high post with the top line extending way far out. Then they stayed in it too long in the 2nd half when Jensen started to take advantage of that hole. Hopefully they'll work on it or ditch it because it wasn't not something to go back to as it functioned tonight. Strange how Cooper just keep running and shooting between the 3:20 and 1:36 mark with a 7 point lead. No attempts to manage the clock at all. Joe Bright, who gets my game ball for how he played Jensen, mysteriously got pulled with 3:10 left. Very strange as that's the 1 time all night I want him on the floor. And they gave up 11 makes from the great beyond, 5 to a stand-still shooter. Overall, not a performance that one would associate with a state championship contender.

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