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Sunday, January 31, 2016

North Late Rally Falls Short

Tri-County North dropped two league games this week. Mississinawa Valley has been playing good basketball this season and they are firmly in ensconced in the top half of the league. North had a tough time gaining traction against the Blackhawks and fell 65-37, But their next game was at Franklin Monroe, where the Panthers fell behind early but mounted a furious comeback attempt in the 4th quarter that fell short.

The Jets play well on their home court – the Hanger, and they shot comfortably in the first quarter. North played in a zone and the Jets hit from the outside and were able to gain an early advantage. The Jets played man to man almost the whole night and were able to rebound defensively – limiting North to one shot on most possessions. The Jets finished out the quarter with nice run and were up 18-11.

North spread out their offense in an attempt to open things up in the 2nd quarter. But they had a hard go of it making any headway. And things got more difficult for North when post man Kurt Brinson got his 3rd foul and was benched about half way through the quarter. He does the bulk of the scoring for North and coach Spitler would remark after the game that when Brinson returned to floor he could not be as aggressive on defense with the fouls hanging over him and so he was not as effective.

So North was down 31-23 at the half. North was not able to make up ground when they got back on the court and the frustration boiled over when the North bench was called for a technical foul. Adding even more to the Panthers woes.

The 4th quarter began with a double digit lead for the Jets. And the Jets were probably starting to make their plans for after the game. But North had other ideas. They altered their defensive set and went into a 1-3-1 trapping zone. That defensive change lead to steals by the Panthers. At the other end of the court, the Panthers found their mark and began making shots. Zach Edgin scored 8 of his 10 points during this stretch. Brinson would foul out, but North kept the pressure up.

The Jet lead evaporated and it was 5 point game, and then a 3 point game with 2:24 left on the clock. But the Jets woke up and made some key shots to pull ahead. They went into a slowdown around this time. North tried to hard to catch up but their efforts fell short and the Jets would win 55-45.

“I thought we played pretty hard, we played well,” commented coach Spitler after the game, “We battled, we didn't give up, and that 1-3-1 worked for us in the end and made things interesting. I am proud of the guys – I think we are making progress, teams can't sleep on us. Losing Brinson did effect us, he is one of our leaders, one of our captains. He does so much on offense and defense for us. But even before he got his 5th foul he had to play tentatively.”

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