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Boys’ cagers roll T’Birds in Section 2AA North opener

The Glencoe-Silver Lake boys’ basketball team is heating up at the right time of the season.
After closing out the regular season with a pair of victories, the Panthers doused Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop 68-42 in the Section 2AA North subsection playoff opener on Monday, March 4.
An experienced GSL side, seeded second in the North, had little trouble with the youthful seventh-seeded Thunderbirds.
Playing in its final home game of the 2018-19 campaign, the Panthers never trailed as senior forward Austin Barrett scored the first four points of the game to give GSL a lead it never relinquished.
The Panthers went up 10 points five minutes into the first half and took a 30-10 advantage four minutes before halftime on a contested layup by senior forward Gage Alsleben.
GSL carried the 20-point lead into the half before continuing to exert its influence over the final 18 minutes of play.
GFW had moments of uprising in the contest, but could not keep up a Panther side that was exceedingly aggressive both offensively and defensively.
As coach Robb DeCorsey cycled through his starters and reserves, the Panthers’ lead was never in jeopardy in spite of a spirited second-half effort on a part of visiting T’Birds.
In the end, GSL sent the home fans into the unseasonably cold night happy with a 26-point win to advance to the North subsection semifinals at New Prague High School on Thursday night.
Senior guard Dane Schwirtz led the Panthers with 13 points, while Barrett tallied eight points.
It was a victory that guaranteed GSL of at least a .500 record on the season as the squad improved to 14-13 with the victorious home finale.
Next up for the Panthers is third-seeded Belle Plaine, with the subsectional semifinal slated to begin at approximately 7:30 p.m. Thursday in New Prague.
The Tigers defeated sixth-seeded Sibley East in Belle Plaine as GSL was defeating GFW.
The Panthers beat the Tigers 77-69 in the second game of the regular season, on Dec. 4.
A second victory over Belle Plaine will send GSL to the North final, scheduled to be played at Minnesota State University-Mankato at 7:45 p.m. Monday night.
The Panthers last appeared in Mankato in 2017.
GSL wrapped up the regular season with a pair of victories, concluding a pair of sweeps over Wright County Conference West rivals.
The Panthers did not need three overtimes to wrap up its season sweep against Watertown-Mayer.
In the rematch at W-M High School on Tuesday, Feb. 26, GSL required just two overtimes to seal a 55-53 win.
Buoyed by a game-high 22 points from Mitchel Jaskowiak and 14 points from fellow forward Jaden Uecker, the Panthers prevailed 55-53 over the host Royals.
The contest between the teams to end February was a far cry from the GSL/W-M matchup that began the month on Feb. 1. In that three-overtime affair, the two teams combined to score 58 fewer points than in the second contest between the sides.
It was the Panthers’ fourth game of the season that failed to end in regulation time. Of those four overtime contests came in February, with the fourth occurring in GSL’s final game of January.
There were no such added efforts required for the Panthers to sweep Dassel-Cokato.
After GSL topped the Chargers 61-46 at D-C on Feb. 18, the Panthers finished off the WCC West cellar dwellers with a 60-41 win in Glencoe on Friday, March 1.
GSL seized control of the game early and rolled up a 32-23 halftime lead.
The Panthers kept it up in the second half, outscoring the Chargers 28-18 over the final 18 minutes to win by 19 points in the regular-season finale.
Schwirtz led the hosts with 14 points, followed by 13 points for senior forward Gabe Roepke.
Nine GSL players scored at least one basket in the win, with Jaskowiak and Uecker chipping in nine and seven points, respectively.
The two victories gave the Panthers a final WCC West record of 6-8, which was good for fifth-place in the conference standings.
Litchfield, Mound Westonka and New London-Spicer shared the circuit title after all three squads posted WCC West records of 11-3 on the season.
GSL split with Mound Westonka and New London-Spicer, but was swept by the Dragons.