Panthers back on track after conference opener victory over Warriors
By Jacob Heid
STEVENS POINT — Since dropping three straight games to start the year, the SPASH boys’ basketball team has won two straight, including the WVC opener against Wausau West on Dec. 16, 57-29. The Panthers used defense to grab momentum in the first half.
The defensive side of the ball was a struggle early in the year for SPASH and now looks like they can use it to win games. That opened up opportunities to stretch the lead against the Warriors. Senior Jack Diekelman never rushed to get into the offense, waiting for the right look. Sophomore Jerrin Suehs drained three three-pointers in the first five minutes, which gave SPASH a 14-10 lead early. Suehs led the team with 15 points. The Panthers took open, high-percentage shots in the first half, leading to a 25-12 advantage about halfway through the first half.
That is where the defensive pressure kicked up a notch. SPASH only gave up two points to Wausau West in the final 7:18 of the first half. The Panthers went to the locker room up 36-14. Senior Arriel Council Jr and sophomore Grant Chandonais joined the scoring party with a few big shots to spread the lead.
Council Jr finished his night with 13 points, while Chandonais was the third player in double figures with 10. Diekelman had 9 in the win. The defense stayed consistent for SPASH in the second half, keeping that comfortable lead intact. The Panthers surrendered only 15 points in the second stanza.
SPASH now has momentum heading into the Sentry Classic Tournament, which is the week of Dec. 28. They play Stoughton at 7 p.m. on Dec. 29.