The Panthers surmounted an 11-point deficit for the win.
By DOUG CHAPIN
CHAMPION -- Tempo is the name of the game for the Bristol High basketball team, and that certainly was the case Tuesday when the Panthers overcame an 11-point, second-half deficit to post a 76-72 non-conference victory over Champion at the Golden Flashes' court.
Champion (10-9) put together a 15-3 run over the last 2:15 of the second quarter to forge a 38-29 halftime lead. The Golden Flashes were successful getting the ball on the low block to seniors Mark Kish (6-foot-5) and Josh Ozanich (6-foot-9). After Ozanich tallied the first bucket of the third quarter, Champion led 40-29.
"At halftime we basically talked about two things," Bristol coach Scott Groves said. "We talked about staying out of foul trouble. You can't win against a team the caliber of Champion with four starters sitting on the bench.
"And we talked about tempo. When they had the lead, they were able to slow things down and get the ball inside. We want an up-tempo game with a score in the 80s. They wanted the score in the 50s."
Bristol's comeback was gradual, but one could sense the Panthers beginning to take control of the tempo and the game. Craig Giesy tied the contest at 49 with 1:35 to play in the third quarter by sinking an off-balance 3-pointer while being fouled. He finished the four-point play with the free throw.
"Once we got the pace we wanted, we were in control, even though we were still behind," Groves said. "They got caught up in our pace."
Bristol also improved its work on the boards in the second half. Though Champion ended up with a 36-25 edge in rebounds, the Panthers, led by senior Ben Imhoff's eight rebounds, held their own in the last 16 minutes.
Imhoff's two free throws and a 3-pointer by David Whitt -- one of five he made on the night while scoring a team-high 23 points -- gave Bristol a 56-51 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Champion got to within two points once down the stretch and within three on several occasions, but the Panthers maintained control, even leading by eight at one point.
Bristol was 12 of 12 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and 21 of 24 for the game. The Panthers also shot 13-for-36 from the 3-point line for the game.
Backing Whitt, who also had six rebounds and four assists, were Imhoff with 16 points, Giesy with 14 points and four steals and Chip Clark with 14 points.
The loss spoiled a 31-point, 13-rebound effort by Champion's Kish.
Ozanich finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. Guards Kevin Stingel (nine points, six rebounds, five assists) and Mike Wortman (seven points and four assists) also played well for the Flashes.