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Watch two of the best players in District 3 basketball face off when Carlisle and Deshawn Millington hosted Spring Grove and Eli Brooks Monday, Jan. 16, 2017. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com

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The showdown between two of the best players in District 3 basketball lived up to expectations.

The game? Not so much.

Carlisle and Deshawn Millington rolled by Spring Grove and Michigan commit Eli Brooks, 75-45, in non-conference action Monday night.

Millington and Brooks each scored 26 points. Both threw down dunks, both made the crowd at a stuffy gym at Carlisle gasp and applaud.

But Carlisle had the better team Monday night. Brooks and Spring Grove looked determined to erase a 16-point halftime lead, but then fouls and injuries cut down any legs the Rockets had.

“We have some key spots that are inexperienced,” Spring Grove coach James Brooks said about his team.

“We’re going to up and down. That’s just the way it is. We are going to look like a million bucks sometimes and look like a used Pinto sometimes. We just have to stay the course, of not getting too high or too low.”

And the Rockets had to turn to its bench for much of the game.

Austin Panter hit the bench with 6:52 left in the second quarter when he was whistled for his third foul. Although he returned, he didn’t have his typical impact. Then Drew Gordon suffered a scary third-quarter injury, banging the back of his head hard off the floor following a collision for a loose ball.

Going up for a rebound near the elbow of the lane, Gordon and a Carlisle defender collided. Gordon’s legs went out from under him and after his back hit the hardwood his head snapped back. Looking dazed, he walked off the floor with the Carlisle trainer and did not return to the game.

Brooks scored 10 points in the third, but Spring Grove managed just 17 as a team.

From then on, Brooks created chances but Carlisle – with a much deeper team and more offensive weapons – rode a double-digit lead into a 20-point and beyond margin.

Ethan Houston scored 17 points, and Gavyn Barnes added 14 points for the Herd.

Panter, who finished the game with four fouls, scored seven points. Gordon had four points, and only one other Spring Grove player scored more than a basket.

Carlisle threw a box-and-one defense at Brooks from the jump.

The Thundering Herd, the first-place team in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division, had one player shadow Brooks all over the floor with its four other players using a zone defense. For a time Carlisle used Matt Brown on Brooks, but for most of the second half they used Barnes.

It didn’t look like it would work at the start, with Brooks dropping nine of his team’s 11 points in the first period. But Spring Grove looked off its game, with its major role players spent too much time on the bench and the team ended up throwing too many entry passes into the outstretched arms of Carlisle defenders.

The only disappointment for Carlisle fans might have been a missed dunk by Millington in the first half and the Herd just missing the connection for an alley-oop dunk.

“Coming off two losses … we needed this one,” said Millington, who lost to Central York Saturday. “We don’t want any more losses.”

Millington, a former state champion in the triple jump, said he has had interest from Division I schools but will likely head to junior college next season.

“If we put all the pieces together like we did today, we can be a great team.”

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