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Spring Grove overcomes slow start to beat Colonials

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After the first quarter on Tuesday, Spring Grove was on pace to give up 80 points against New Oxford.

By the end the night, the Rockets had given up just over half of that total.

Trying to get back in the win column after a disappointing loss to William Penn last Friday, Spring Grove overcame a slow start to beat the Colonials, 51-41. The Rockets (3-1, 2-1) gave up 20 points in the first quarter but just 21 the rest of the way.

After giving up six 3-pointers in the opening quarter, the Rockets received a tongue-lashing from head coach James Brooks on the bench. They responded by limiting New Oxford to just two threes from that point on.

"We weren't competing that first quarter," Brooks said. "It's always about our defense and I add it up to make sure they know that 20 points added up to 80. We haven't scored 80 this year yet. We have to make sure we keep people to a low level."

Trailing by five after the first, Spring Grove held the Colonials to two field goals and four points in the second and went into halftime up two. The Rockets would then open the third quarter on 13-6 run and eventually go into the fourth up 11. They had no trouble closing the game out from there.

Offensively, Spring Grove was paced by 6-foot-1 senior Austin Panter, who finished with 21 points on 10 field goals. With the Colonials devoting a lot of attention to Michigan commit Eli Brooks, Panter was able to consistently get to the basket.

"He's aggressive 24/7," Eli Brooks said. "He has a motor and never stops. I think it's really important (for Panter to have a big game), especially early on. It gave him confidence and now we just need him and Drew (Gordon) to be clicking at the same time with me and we'll be a deadly trio."

While Brooks finished with just 14 points, his first game this season with under 30, he also grabbed 15 rebounds. It's the fourth straight time this season the 6-foot-1 guard has registered at least that many.

According to his head coach and father, Brooks became the program's all-time rebound leader last Friday.

"Rebounding is all about effort," James Brooks said. "And I don't think you'll ever find someone that has more effort than Eli on the court."

On the other side, the Colonials (3-2, 2-1) struggled to get the same shots they got early on and didn't hit them when they did. Senior guard Jordin Brown had nine points on three 3-pointers after the first but finished the game with 11. Forward Ben Lehman led the team with 14.

New Oxford head coach Sean Bair said that while Eli Brooks makes it difficult for any team to match up with Spring Grove, the Colonials didn't do a good enough job rotating defensively.

"They picked their defense up and we didn't respond to it well enough," Bair said. "They play unlike any other team.  A lot of the rules you set for your team break down when you're playing against a guy who's going to play in the Big Ten. It forces you to change some of your principles.

"We did a pretty good job with the principles that directly impacted Eli when he had the ball. We failed pretty miserably in the third quarter and fourth with those principles once he gave it up."