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Mitchell's trap snares coach a personal victory
It wasn’t the prettiest win of Jeff Cooks’ coaching tenure at Mitchell, but it might rank among his most satisfying.
The Marauders (3-5) used an aggressive trapping defense to stifle Palmer’s offense enough for a 39-35 win at home, giving Cooks a win over his former coach – Palmer’s Jim Grantz.
“I respect Coach Grantz as much or more than any coach I know,” Cooks said. “So to have this win over him is big for me; but I’m sure he doesn’t like it.”
There wasn’t much for either team to like on the offensive side of the ball. Neither team really took control until Mitchell’s trapping defense eventually allowed it to escape in the fourth quarter.
The Marauders got big games from their big guys. Aaron Cooley, a 6-foot-5 center, filled up the stat sheet on Saturday night with 10 points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks. Fellow senior post Philip Booze had 11 points and eight rebounds.
“My shots weren’t really falling tonight, so I told my teammates that I was going to play hard on defense and get them the ball,” said Cooley, who couldn’t find any range on his jumper. “This is team ball and we play together and we’ve turned this thing around.”
After Mitchell started the season 0-4, it has now won three of its last four games and appears to be putting the pieces together. On the other sideline it was a different story. Palmer fell to 0-9 on the season and is left looking for answers.
“For us right now, it’s about finding guys who are willing to work hard and are going to play hard together consistently,” said Grantz, who is facing his toughest challenge in his tenure at Palmer. “We’re still working. We have a lot of new pieces and parts, and we’re having to learn the hard way.”
After leading 7-4 after the first quarter, Palmer had a disastrous second, getting outscored 17-7, which would be the difference in the game. The bright spots for the Terrors were junior Matt Curti and sophomore Nathan Raak, who each scored 10 points and pulled down six rebounds.
Although Palmer tied the game at 35 with two minutes left, it never gained the lead and went scoreless the rest of the way.
“We’re getting there; we are playing 30 times better now than we did the first game of the year,” Curti said. “We want to turn this around badly. When you go into the locker room you see guys are upset, but we are going to keep working together.”