By PATRICK SLACK
Tuesday’s showdown between the final two unbeaten Granite Ridge Conference (GRC) boys basketball teams appeared to get off to a lopsided start.
But despite St. Cloud Cathedral building an early 10-0 lead, Little Falls flipped the script, pulling within one point at the break before sprinting ahead in the second half for an 80-71 home win.
The Flyers improved to 5-0 in the GRC with the victory, seizing sole possession of first place over Class AA’s fourth-ranked Crusaders.
With an offense that has relied extensively on jump shooters throughout the season, Little Falls turned to senior big man Spencer Lubbers in the paint, who delivered 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
Around the perimeter, junior Troy Scott (15), seniors Jake Scott (14) and Collin Eckman (10) and junior Sebastian Sowada (10) also reached double figures, going a combined 9-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Sophomore Bryce Zawatzke added six points and eight rebounds and senior Travis Spillum picked up four points.
“One thing we have been emphasizing is getting a variety in our offense,” Little Falls head coach Kevin Jordan said. “Too many times we are just looking for open perimeter shots. Getting the ball inside to Lubbers, Zawatzke and Gradin will help us.”
“Lubbers had success last night in the post, attacking the basket with the dribble and by crashing the offensive boards,” he said. “He is starting to get in shape after missing much of December. He definitely makes us a better basketball team.”
The opening sequence was a near-complete reversal of the Flyers’ previous game against Brainerd, when Little Falls built a 21-13 lead against the unbeaten Warriors, only for Brainerd to rally for the win.
“As for the start, you can’t compare (the Cathedral and Brainerd games),” Jordan said. “Two totally different teams on two different nights. Things usually can’t be scripted.”
“I was very pleased with how we fought back into the game and were able to overcome the deficit and get a lead of our own,” he said. “Experiences like that will help us along the way.”
Little Falls 80, St. Cloud Cathedral 71
St. Cloud Cathedral 34 37 – 71
Little Falls 33 47 – 80
Little Falls—Spencer Lubbers, 21 (5 rebounds); Troy Scott, 15 (6 rebounds, 5 assists); Jake Scott, 14; Collin Eckman, 10 (7 rebounds, 6 assists); Sebastian Sowada, 10; Bryce Zawatzke, 6 (8 rebounds, 4 assists); Travis Spillum, 4 (3 rebounds).