Anoka and Coon Rapids came into Tuesday’s game with a combined 0-6 record, but Anoka walked off the Cardinals court 62-58 winners Dec. 3.
Neither team could find a basket in the opening moments of the Northwest Suburban Conference rivalry game, but Coon Rapids jumped to a 10-1 lead.
Both teams struggled to make three-point shots – Coon Rapids went one-for-18 and Anoka was three-for-16 – but both shot nearly 50 percent from the field and around 60 percent from the free throw line.
Anoka’s hustle for loose balls helped it gain a 48-39 edge in rebounds, keyed by Jacob Grow’s game-high 25 points and senior guard Travis Bengston’s 12 points.
Anoka took a 29-27 lead in the closing moments of the first half before Coon Rapids junior guard Timmy Nguyen sank a three-pointer from above the circle with two seconds left to give the home team a 30-29 lead at halftime. He finished with 13 points, spelling starting junior guard Chris Buckley.
Anoka started the second half with a 10-2 run before Coon Rapids coach Mike Ogarek called a timeout down 39-32.
The Tornadoes built a 49-39 lead after a three-pointer from Stephen Barthold made in front of the Anoka bench.
Cardinals’ Jackson Bednar picked up a rebound and was fouled on the put-back for a one-and-one chance to make it 50-44. Then after Lepper ripped the ball away from the Tornadoes ball handler, Nguyen was on the receiving end of the outlet pass and was fouled on a converted basket. He made the free throw to cut the Anoka lead to 50-47 with 8:16 left.
Buckley returned to the game with 6:06 left after an extended period of time on the bench with foul trouble.
He was Coon Rapids’ most prolific scorer two games into the season, averaging 23 points per contest. Despite the lack of minutes on the floor, Buckley had a team-high 14 points before fouling out with 47.3 seconds left.
Foul trouble continued in the closing moments when Cardinals senior Tykeise Jackson took a technical foul after reacting to Anoka’s Torry Ledin stepping over him. Bengston made both free throws to boost Anoka’s lead to 55-49 with 4:40 left.
Before Buckley left the game, he cut the Tornadoes lead to 57-56 with 3:09 to play after making both free throws. On the following in bounds play, Buckley drew an offensive foul on Bengston in front of the Cardinals bench, but a missed shot turned the ball over to Anoka to stop the Cardinals’ comeback bid.
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