Spring Lake Park Beats Mounds View in Boys Basketball
The smaller Panthers outmaneuvered the Mustangs.
Spring Lake Park High School, led by junior guard Bryce Williams' 17 points, sped past winless Mounds View High School en route to a 59-49 boy basketball home victory Tuesday night.
Spring Lake Park came out with an aggressive half-court defense, jumping passing lanes and forcing a lot of interior turnovers from Mounds View.
"[At] the defensive end we came out with a lot of intensity the first half, and set the tone there," said Spring Lake Park Head Coach Grant Guzy
A strategy by design and necessity, according to Guzy.
"That's how we have to play; we didn't start one guy over 6 [feet tall]."
Forwards Robert Ben and Sean Scott had to sit out the first half for violating team rules, leading Spring Lake Park to rely on the craftiness and swiftness of their smaller players.
Bryce Williams and senior guard Alex Mercer rose to the challenge, causing headaches for Mounds View in the half-court, combining for nine steals on the game, causing Mounds View to resort to perimeter shots against the much smaller Spring Lake Park lineup.
"Those guys were using their quickness to step around on those big guys in the paint," Guzy said.
Spring Lake Park's stiff defense held Mounds View in check, going into the half with a 28-20 lead.
The timely play was needed as Spring Lake Park captain Derek Dahl was hampered by foul trouble most of the night, scoring eight points and failing to see the court most of the second-half after fouling out.
"We need [Dahl] on the court as much as possible," Guzy said. "But that was another bright spot tonight, that we didn't have him for a huge chunk of the second half and we still were able to hang on and win the basketball game."
Hang on they did.
The second half saw the trailing Mustangs switch from man-to-man defense in favor of a combination 2-3 and 1-3-1 press defenses.
The switch paid dividends, as Spring Lake Park struggled to mount an offense early in the second half.
"We need a little more work on the offensive end of the press," Guzy said, as his team struggled to find the open man and began to turn the ball over with regularity.
Although Mounds View slowed Spring Lake Park offensively, the Mustangs' inability to score on offense continued as well.
Mounds View's frustration became visible when, with 13:43 left and the score 39-25, junior center Kevin Sharpe was slapped with a dead-ball technical after toppling Spring Lake Park's Alex Mercer underneath the basket after the whistle.
But with less than 5:00 left in the game, Mounds View mounted a comeback when senior Dan Evanson came up with a steal and raced down the court on a fast break, dropping a pass to junior guard Quinn Madsen for an easy lay-up. The Mustangs crawled within nine the following possession when forward Jordan VanEps was fouled shooting a baseline jumper and converted the three-point play.
Too little, too late for Mounds View in the end, as Spring Lake Park outworked the Mustangs most of the night in their home opener.
Guzy knows he'll need similar efforts all year for Spring Lake Park to be successful, which is returning only two players from last year's varsity squad in Dahl and Scott.
"We got contributions from all 10 guys that saw minutes," Guzy said "There wasn't one guy that went out there that didn't play hard and didn't produce."
Guzy credits the win as a product of the hard work his team exhibited in the off-season: "That got them ready for the varsity level, and they showed it tonight."
Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m.: Spring Lake Park at St. Michael-Albertville
Dec. 17, 7:15 p.m.: Mounds View vs. East Ridge