published Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Rams control second half, beat Panthers

There always have been two staples of a Gerald Harris-coached Tyner basketball team. Defense and rebounding. Both were prevalent Saturday afternoon.

The Rams limited Brainerd to 14 second-half points, forced 12 turnovers in that span and were able to even their District 6-AA record with a 60-46 victory over the Panthers.

Sadik Spence scored 23 points and Bristen Bridgeman added 12 as the Rams overcame 15-for-32 free-throw shooting. The 17 missed foul shots were five more than the Panthers tried Saturday, and the Rams made only six more.

"I told the guys that defense and rebounds were going to win this game," Harris said. "It's refreshing for them to play like that, to play like we're capable of. We've been playing in a funk lately."

Tyner started the third quarter with a 9-0 run, erasing the Panthers' 32-27 halftime lead. After five and a half minutes of not scoring, Brainerd got baskets from DeVonte Cooper and Dimitri Glenn but didn't score another basket until a jump shot by Demarcus Otis with 6:58 remaining in the game.

"The third quarter has been our downfall all year long," Brainerd coach Robert High said. "People keep telling me that we're young; we're not young anymore! We've played 20 games -- we're not young."

The 20-free-throw discrepancy wasn't too pleasing to High.

"Two teams, both playing an aggressive man-to-man defense, and they shoot 20 more free throws?" High said. "We're not even supposed to be in the game."

Orlando Moore had 11 points and seven rebounds in the first half for the Panthers, but he was held both scoreless and without a rebound in the second half before fouling out. Cooper and Demarcus Otis fouled out as well for Brainerd (8-9, 6-4). Marques Tipton added 10 points in defeat.

Harris praised the play of posts Bridgeman and Alex "Tree" Watkins, who had eight rebounds and four blocks. Freshman guard Dequan Jones came in and chipped in five points.

"We had some guys come off the bench and play well," Harris said. "It was a great team effort."

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