by Samantha Lefebvre
Spring Lake Park (8-7) capitalized on its rebounds to generate points in a 65-45 win over North Suburban Conference foe St. Francis (5-8) Jan. 13.
Spring Lake Park had an early 11-point run in the first half, giving them a 15-4 lead. St. Francis came back with a run to close the gap to six points and from then on they were neck and neck with the Panthers. But Spring Lake Park ended up scoring the last four points and led the half 33-27.
“The first half was pretty close,” St. Francis coach Jen Close said. “I mean, obviously, we came to play defense and we were sticking with them. But inside we knew that they had a 6-3 kid inside and obviously our tallest kid is 5’ 10” so we knew we were going to give up a lot of size inside and we just had to have great weak side help on the defense.”
Less turnovers and controlling possession was the name of the game in the second half for Spring Lake Park. The Panthers had a 23-7 run in the first six minutes.
The Panthers gained a 20-point lead in the last five minutes, a lead that stayed till the end of the game.
“We had less turnovers, better movement in the offense in the second half,” Spring Lake Park assistant coach Randy Eatherton said. “We just had better all around team play. I think we understood that less turnovers was the main thing.”
Spring Lake Park’s 6-foot, 3-inch center Christina Wakeman, led the Panthers with 17 points. She was followed closely by teammate Nicole Howard, who put up 16 points.
Senior captain Samantha Salo led St. Francis with 13 points. Junior guard Nicole Borstner contributed nine points for the Fighting Saints.
“We got a lot of inside rebounds and dominated,” Eatherton said. “We just handled the pressure much better in the second half than we normally do, so that was positive to see for us.”