Rebels hold off Panthers

Prologue
Off to Spring Lake Park for a non-conference showdown with Champlin Park.  I get yapping which almost means my hot dog gets cold.  Never a good thing but thank goodness for tin foil.  12 more ounces on the beverage tally as well with the strange concept of Sprite Zero.

Game Time
Trevor Garrison with 3 easy buckets early as Champlin Park opens an 11-7 lead.  Michael Sales off the Rebels bench with a jumper, a 3 and then 2-3 freebies fouled on a 3.  That opens up a Champlin Park lead of 27-18 at the 8:13 mark.  Then Panthers guard Gary Cook heats up.  A pair of free throws and a triple to cut the lead to 4.  The Rebels push the lead back to 8 but back to back drive and kicks find Cook who knocks down 2 more bombs.  Cook adds 2 free throws to close out the scoring for the half.  39-37 Champlin Park at the half.  Cook with 15.

Robert Ben drives for 2, the teams trade bombs and TC Robinson converts a turnover into a layup.  That puts Spring Lake Park back on top 46-44 at the 14:33 mark.  A very fast pace at this point in the half with both teams really pushing the ball back down the opponents throat after a make.  Tied at 48 when Garrison gets out on the break and gets whacked with an intentional foul.  Garrison makes 1 of the 2 freebies and Champlin Park can't get anything on the possession at the 13:30 mark.  Champlin Park lead 57-54 at the 10:18 mark as Garrison adds a layup to draw a Spring Lake Park timeout.

Matt Juneau for 2 to push the lead to 5, but TC Robinson with a 3 and center Justin Axelson with the running banker off the screen and roll for a 6-0 Panthers run.  60-59 Spring Lake Park inside of 6 to play.  Ian Smith right back the other way with a 3 point play for Champlin Park and a 2 point.  Then the Rebels pull out the 1-3-1 zone.  That slows down the Panthers offense.  Brennan Witt takes over inside for Champlin Park down the stretch.  He scores 9 Rebels points in a row after the zone starts.  Over 3:20 that stretches the Rebels lead to 71-64 with 1:20 left.  Robinson buries a 3 and a turnover is a Robert Ben bucket inside a minute to go and the lead is down to 2.   The lead is 3 with 14.1 left when Champlin Park misses a front end but the worst basketball crime is giving up the offensive rebound on a free throw.  Ian Smith ends up with it and buries 2 free throws.  Cook gets a bucket with 4 seconds left and Spring Lake Park takes a timeout down 3.  The long baseball pass is tracked down by Garrison to save possession and then he smartly gets the timeout jumping out of bounds with 2.9 left.  If he doesn't come up with that, the ball comes all the way back to under the Panthers bucket for a chance to tie.  Now the only way you get beat is with a long pass toward halfcourt.  That's exactly what happens and a tip gives Spring Lake Park a heave from around halfcourt at the buzzer.  It hits the iron but is off.  Champlin Park wins 75-72.

Post Game
For Spring Lake Park, they've now lost 3 in a row to fall to 9-7 and they may fall from 16th to out of next week's state poll.  Senior guard Gary Cook outstanding off the bench with 26 points to lead the Panthers.  TC Robinson with 11 of his 18 points in the 2nd half to help bring Spring Lake Park back.  The Panthers have North Branch at home to finish the week and then host St. Francis next Tuesday.

For Champlin Park, center Brennan Witt with 13 of his 22 in the second half to lead the Rebels.  A couple of good sets for him and he took advantage inside late with the 9 in a row to make the difference.  Ian Smith a solid 18 point night running the point.  Trevor Garrison with 10 of his 13 in the 1st half.  Very interesting in the 1-3-1 zone as the Rebels didn't put a long and/or athletic guy like a Garrison or Sales at the top of it.  Garrison was actually running the baseline while PG Smith was playing a wing spot.  Then Smith played a bit at the top of it which defeats the entire purpose of the zone.  The Rebels improve to 11-4 and have won 5 out of 6.  They are at Maple Grove on Tuesday and then host Armstrong on Thursday.  2 big games for the Rebels to try and stay in the loaded top half of the Northwest Suburban.

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