Panther size chews up Eagles

Prologue
Its a big game in the South Suburban as Lakeville North travels to Apple Valley in a battle for 2nd place.  No taco in a bag like I think AV has had in the past.  But since its Lakeville North we get the one and only...Hat Lady.  Dark red tonight with the purple winter coat and a restaurant quality black hat that seemed very Russian.  DA!  Not as big of a crowd as I would have expected. However, we do get the special (and rare) appearance from Gopher Hole's very own Gopher Lady.  Today's music selection is totally random and pointless.  Country seemed to be good variety today.

Song of the Day
Dixie Chicks - Long Time Gone

Game Time
Trey Heid gets the initial task of guarding Tyus Jones.  Jones with a cold 0-4 start.  Lakeville North takes advantage for a 6-2 lead to force an Apple Valley timeout.  Tyus with a nice cut for 2 countered by a Tyler Flack 3.  Tyus for 2 and drives for a lefty finish.  Then back to back assists.  Then he splits a pair of free throws.  18-14 Apple Valley at the 8:47 mark and Lakeville North needs a timeout.  Dustin Fronk with a steal for a 2 and Matt Christiansen in the post for 2 more.  23-14 Apple Valley at the 6:52 mark.  Their 2-3 zone giving Lakeville North fits.  Panthers not making any shots and very stagnant in their zone offense and getting no inside looks despite a major size advantage.  Tyus with a drive for 2 and then a steal for 2 more + a subtle move to take a bump to make that a 3 point play.  32-24 Apple Valley at the half.  Tyus with 13 and the 2 assists.  Tyler Flack 8 points and 6 rebounds for Lakeville North.

The Panthers start the half strong with a 8-2 run as they start getting inside looks.  Brett Rasmussen all alone for a layup, Flack up high to lay in a lob after making 2 free throws.  Timeout Apple Valley with a 34-32 lead and 14:13 to play.  Tyus driving for another lefty finish and nailing a 3 with 13 minutes to go.  39-32 Apple Valley.  Mitch Hecshel with a pair of layups and Dustin Fronk with 2 free throws on a steal.  47-39 Apple Valley with 10:48 to play.  Zach Creighton with back to back triples, his 3rd and 4th of the night as the Panthers cut into the lead.  Then Ryan Saarela takes over inside.  He makes 1 layup, then Tyler David converts a turnover after Flack missed a dunk, Saarela with 1 layup and another off a BLOB.  53-52 Lakeville North with 7 minutes to play.  Tyus challenges Flack and makes 2 free throws.  Then Tyus blocks Saarela from behind to save 2 more.  Saarela can't be stopped or contained.  He puts back a miss with 5:20 left.  Then a drive to the basket for 2 more.  Flack fouled for 2 freebies with 3:42 left.  59-54 Lakeville North taking over as Tyus just missed back to back chances in the post.  Flack posts up next time down for 2 more from the right box.  Saarela with another bucket and 2 free throws to end a streak of 14 points in just over 7 minutes.  Lakeville North ends the game on a 15-0 run over the last 5:20.  Apple Valley goes scoreless the last 6:19 and only 1 FG in the last 10 minutes.  Tyus Jones last field goal was at the 13 minute mark and had only 2 free throws after that.  Panthers prevail 68-54.

Post Game
For Apple Valley, Tyus Jones leads with 22 points and 4 assists on my sheet.  I had 8-23 FGs on my sheet as well.  With Harry Sonie out for the season, that takes 1 of the few scoring threats out of the Eagles lineup.  Maybe that had an impact but it looked like Tyus was pressing a bit.  Most surprising and you have to credit the Lakeville North defense for this is that nobody besides Tyus made a 3 point shot in the game for Apple Valley.  Lots of 1 on 1 play with little movement contributed to that.  Dustin Fronk with 11 points was the other double figure scorer.  Apple Valley falls to 5-2 in the South Suburban and into 3rd place behind Eastview and Lakeville North.  They are 12-3 overall.  They now have 3 in a row on the road at Jefferson, Rosemount and Prior Lake thru next week.

Tyler Flack leads Lakeville North with 18 points and 12 boards on my sheet.  Ryan Saarela with 14 of his 16 in the last 10 minutes to take over the game.  Zach Creighton with 4 big 3s in the game for 12 points.  Lakeville North gets 35 points from the starters and 33 from the bench for great balance.  Lakeville North struggled vs the 2-3 in the first half and when Creighton didn't play the last 10 minutes I thought his shooting would be missed.  But the defensive work was outstanding holding Apple Valley to 2 FGs in the last 11:30.  Good adjustments against the zone in the 2nd half as Saarela and Flack were too much for the small Eagles front line.  Lakeville North is now 6-1 in the South Suburban and stays 1 game behind Eastview.  They are 14-1 overall.  They visit Rosemount on Thursday.

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