Panthers steal one at Jefferson

Prologue
To Jefferson for my first look at the Jags and Lakeville North.  We're using programs from a home game vs Burnsville so I have to be resourceful on the Lakeville North roster.  Disappointing pizza and the usually overzealous PA guy . And it pains me to say that the Jaguar costume has to be replaced.  Not good.  We have Tupac's California Love playing on the PA at halftime which is quality though the "clean" version being played was a bit strange.  On a positive note, nice to honor the 8 Jefferson seniors prior to the varsity game.  Minnesota State's top 2 coaches were looking on if I saw correctly.

Game Time
5-3 Lakeville North at the 16:15 mark.  Then the slowest 10-0 run you might see.  Jalen Williams at 14:25, Jack Wittenborg then goes it along with a pullup and triple and then a layup via turnover.  Williams ends the 5:20 run with a free throw at 9:05.  Lakeville North has to come back with 3 starters during the run but not Dajon Newell.  Devon Knopke off the bench in this one and he finds Gavin Albright for a pair of 3s.  Timeout Jefferson at 7:04 with a 16-13 lead.  But Lakeville North only gets a triple from Knopke the rest of the half.  Williams to Wittenborg after a LONG possession for a layup at the 1:05 mark.  Jefferson probably held the ball 2 minutes and coach Evens is yelling for patience.  Please tell me he was saying that to the crowd.  As you'd say online, SMH.  24-16 Jags at the half.

Kyle Peterson steps up for Lakeville North with a jumper and a pair of triples in the first 3:45 minutes.  Panthers down 31-26.  Wittenborg with a nice pullup followed by 2 Williams free throws and its 37-28 Jags with 10:09 left.  Wittenborg drives for 2, Williams puts back a miss and Wittenborg with another pullup at 5:53 for a 43-34 Jags lead and with their slow pace it feels like they'll go anaconda on this one and just squeeze the life put of the rest of the game.  Peterson with another 3 at 4:35, countered by a Williams post up for 1 of 2 free throws at 4:15.  44-37 Jags.

Then Williams with a steal but misses both free throws.  Knopke drives and scores at 2:45 to cut the lead to 5.  Jags turn it over and now North is patient.  Knopke finds Peterson all alone on the backside of the 2-3 zone for a layup with 2 minutes left and its 44-41.  North presses on the make and forces Marcus Alipate to walk as he tries to beat the 10 count.  Knopke drives hard on the left baseline for 2 more and Alipate misses a front end at 1:34.  Williams grabs the miss but he can't convert the bunny.  Junior forward Alex Moore off the Lakeville North bench fouled on a layup and he makes 1 of 2 with 1:19 left to tie the game at 44.  Alipate drives and makes 1 of 2 with 56.8 left.  Lakeville North runs 30 seconds of offense and can't find anything so they take timeout with 24 seconds left.  Its Moore again, this time on the left block for 3 the hard way with 8.2 remaining.  Amazing.  47-45 Lakeville North for their first lead since the first 4 minutes of the game.  Jefferson took time out before the free throw and they inbound to Alipate and let him go full court.  He drives and loses the ball off a knee with 1.1 left.  Dajon Newell makes 2 free throws with 0.2 left to seal a 49-45 Lakeville North win.

For Jefferson, they get 2 points and no field goals in the last 5:50.  3 turnovers and 1-4 free throws in the last 2 and a half makes it difficult.  Jalen Williams off the bench in this one for senior Charlie Reichel.  A nice night for him with 15 points and 13 boards on my sheet.  Jack Wittenborg leads the way with 19 points.  Marcus Alipate a rough night with 7 points on 2-13 shooting and 6 turnovers. But with their top player having an off night, give the Jags credit.  They used their flex type offense to pound the ball inside all night long and on defense they flipped between man and a couple variations of 2-3 zone (they'll X the wing guys and play it straight).  Jefferson started 3-13 including a loss to Chanhassen after beating them by 27 early in the year.  The Jags are now 6-15 but they're recently beat Apple Valley and won at Duluth East who are arguably favorites in their sections.  Not to mention, 7 of those losses are by 5 points or less with 4 of those being leads at halftime.  5 of their 9 losses last year were also by 5 points or less.  They may be looking at a 3 vs 6 game at Chaska to open section 2AAAA play which I wouldn't look past if I were Chaska.

For Lakeville North, this win was grand theft auto.  The Panthers have now won 9 of 12.  Eric Peterson is the only Panther in double figures tonight with 13 points.  All of those were in the 2nd half as he hit 3 big triples and a layup to keep the Panthers close.  Devon Knopke assisted on that and followed with a couple of big buckets but only finished with 7 points.  Dajon Newell with half of his points on the final free throws.  Both were surprisingly passive, especially Newell.  Against a team like Jefferson, that hurts.  I don't have exact minutes but it seemed like Knopke/Newell played separately as much as they played together.  I expected more of them on the floor together.  Section 3AAAA will be very interesting with any of the top 6 teams having a reasonable shot.  Eagan and Rosemount were hot early, but have struggled recently.  Eastview on the other hand has won 8 of 11 and has Joey King in the lineup now.  They gave Apple Valley all they wanted without King and just beat Lakeville South.

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