In this, what might be one of the most unpredictable seasons in his 37th as head coach for the Brainerd Panther, Robert High has come to dread halftime.
Saturday afternoon in the home of the Tyner Rams, the Panthers wiped out a first half of smart, energetic play against the Rams by going stone cold in the third quarter. The opportunistic Rams of coach Gerald Harris did not let the opportunity slip past, outscoring the Panthers by 19 points in the second half en route to a 60-46 victory.
High grabbed his scorebook to make his point, but he'd clearly had the offending pages committed to memory.
“It's been the third quarter for us all year,” he said, flipping the pages. “Today we had what? Four points in the third quarter. Against East Ridge, which was a loss, six points in the third. Against Howard, six points in the third.
“I don't know where we are as a team,” he admitted. “We look good. We can look good just standing there. But right now, I don't know where we are as a team and I don't know where we're going. This is my 37th year, and I've never had a team like this in 36 years – and that's not a complement.”
The Panthers built a 32-27 halftime lead behind an 11-point, seven-rebound showing from Orlando Moore, and the half was capped by a final-shot trey from senior Jay Besley. But Besley would /score only two more points on the final half and Moore did not add a point or rebound to his ledger since the half.
Meanwhile, the Rams came out crisp and clicking, scoring the first nine points of the third quarter and taking a 36-32 lead. The final five points of the were posted by Bristen Bridgeman, whose 12-point performance was one of two double-digit performances.
Tops for the 9-6 Rams was the 23-point, six-assist, four-steal day by Sadik Spencer. Taking the role of point guard with the lead, he had a mixed bag performance in the second roof, when he two 3-points, helped draw enough fouls to eventually foul out three Panthers and lead Tyner as a team to hitting 15 of 33 free throws – making more than Brainerd attempted (9 of 11).
Alex Watkins was an inside force with five points and nine rebounds.
Harris was all for a simple explanation about his team's turnaround.
“We came out doing the job on defense,” Park said. “That's your difference in the third quarter, right there.
“I told them at the half that we were going to win this game, and we were going to do it with defense and reacting to what they were doing. IT was refreshing to our team playing like it's capable.”
The game was the first part of a doubleheader for the Panthers, who hosted Cedar Grove, Ga., on Saturday evening.
Lady Panthers Fend Off Upset-Minded Tyner
Anisha Douglas' steal and end-to-end drive for a layup proved to be the deciding play in favor of the Brainerd Lady Panthers' holding off the Tyner Lady Rams by a 41-35 final.
Douglas, who finished with a game-best 23 points, converted her steal with :50 left, making the score 37-31. From there, Brainerd hit enough free throws to maintain the gap, but hit only 7 of 19 for the game. Tyner was led by Juanita Montgomery's 13 points, hit 4 of 11 foul shots.
Also for Brainerd, Jakeria Walker had eight rebounds and Jasmine Woods scored four points to go with five assists.
Brainerd 12 10 9 12 – 41
Tyner 3 14 10 8 – 35
BRAINERD (41) – Woods 4, Anisha Douglas 23, Rowland 5, Ward 4, Walker 2, Robinson 1, Ashley 2.
TYNER (35) – Turner 7, Juanita Montgomery 13, Parks 6, Hines, Smith 2, Speight 7, Hudgins.
3-point goals: Brainerd 4 (Doublas 4); Tyner 3 (Montgomery 2, Parks). Records: Brainerd 8-9, 6-2 in 6-AAA; Tyner 4-12, 2-6 in 6-AAA.
Brainerd 14 18 4 10 – 46
Tyner 14 13 14 19 – 35
BRAINERD (46) – Besley 7, Marques Tipton 10, Decmarus Otis 2,Glenn 2, Bass, Orlando Moore 11, Cooper 8, Moore, Stubbs 6.
TYNER (35) – Sadik Spencer 23, Bowman 4, Briston Bridgemann 12, Watkins 5, D. Jones 54, Waller, Rollins, L. Rollins 8, Strickland, Howard.
3-point goals: Brainerd 3 (Tipton 2, Besley); Tyner 1 (D. Jones); Records: Brainerd 8-9, 6-4 in 6-AAA; Tyner 9-6, 4-4 in 6-AAA.