LITTLE FALLS - The Hawks were soaring higher than the Little Falls Flyers Tuesday night.
The Hawks as in Class 4A's seventh-ranked Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks, who sped past, leaped over and frustrated Class 3A's eighth-ranked Flyers into 29 turnovers and 31-percent shooting from the field, leading to a 67-36 victory in the first round of the Pine Country Bank tournament.
Cooper senior center Galvin Godfrey battled foul trouble to finish with 12 points and personified the Hawks' relentless presence around the rim for either rebounds or field goal attempts. Cooper attempted 67 shots compared to the Flyers' 45.
"No matter if we were in man-to-man or in a zone we were going to try and take away the paint," said Flyers head coach Kevin Jordan. "I thought we did that in both defenses we ran, but we were in zone more mostly because it stopped their movement around. They weren't very comfortable with the pace of the game so we were in a zone more than I anticipated."
Little Falls coach Kevin Jordan and the Flyers' bench reacted to one of the few good moments during their 67-36 loss to the Robbinsdale Cooper Hawks Tuesday. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
The Flyers hung tough for a half, using that zone defense to keep the Hawks out of the lane and away from the basket. Cooper shot just 9-of-28 in the first half, but used 18 Little Falls turnovers to keep the Flyer offense out of sync, too.
Dan Kornbaum led all scorers with 16 points, but struggled to find a rhythm as did the entire Flyers team. Little Falls was 0-6 from 3-point and 8-21 from the foul line to add to the turnover troubles.
"I think we wore down mentally and lost our poise in the second half," said Jordan. "With every missed free throw and every turnover we had, we lost a little of that poise and discipline. We did a great job of taking away the rim and the driving lanes. Unfortunately in the second half, each time we had a turnover and missed a free throw it seemed like that path to the rim got a little easier."
Robbinsdale Cooper 67, Little Falls 36
The key: Cooper forced 29 Flyers turnovers and held them to 31-percent shooting
Overall: LF 6-1, RC 5-0
Next: Little Falls vs. Badger/Greenbush-Middle River in third-place game of Little Falls tournament at 6 p.m. Wednesday; Robbinsdale Cooper vs. Pequot Lakes in championship game at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Little Falls grabbed its first and only lead at 5:04 of the first when Kornbaum hit two free throws to make it 15-14. Cooper than went on a 9-0 run with seven of those points coming off Flyer turnovers and the Hawks enjoyed a 23-17 halftime edge.
Cold shooting persisted for the Flyers in the second half as they connected on just 7-of-27 from the field while Cooper hit on 18-of-34 and got 11 second-half points from Darry Jones. The Hawks used a 9-3 run to start the second half and added runs of 9-4 and 12-0 to build a 52-28 lead and coast to victory.
Little Falls' Grant Bell added seven points and Ethan Mustonen scored six as the Flyers scored 28 fewer points than their season average in their first loss of the season.
Cooper will face Class 2A's Pequot Lakes Patriots, who knocked off Badger/Greenbush-Middle River in the early game. The Flyers will attempt to rebound against the Gators in the third-place game.
"It's important that we experienced a game like this," said Jordan. "Now, how much is it going to benefit us is going to come down to where do we go from here?
"We have to come back stronger mentally. There are two paths we can take. It might have made us weaker confidence-wise or we can learn from it and get that poise and discipline back and I think we'll be better off."
Robbinsdale Cooper 23 34 - 67
Little Falls 17 19 - 36
Phillip Fanjul 3, Elijah Swen 4, Darry Jones 12, Terry Glass 5, Terrace Averyheart 11, Darren Hebert 9, Charles Williams 5, Brandon Harrison 2, Raheem Tyner 2, Melvin Kromah 2, Calvin Godfrey 12. FG 27-62 44 percent), FT 8-16 (50 percent), 3-point baskets: 5-11 (Fanjul, Swen, Glass, Averyheart, Hebert).
Alex Scott 2, Zach Horejsi 3, Grant Bell 7, Mitch Dorn 1, Josh Wenzel 1, Dan Kornbaum 16, Ethan Mustonen 6. FG 14-45 (31 percent), FT 8-21 (38 percent), 3-point baskets: 0-6.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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