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Defense smokes Chiefs
Times photo: Adam Krebs Brodheads J.J. Panoske (42) posts up Big Foot defender Marcus Greben in the first quarter of the Cardinals 60-45 win Tuesday night.
BRODHEAD - With Big Foot coming to town, the Cardinals needed everything they could get from their resident Sasquatch, J.J. Panoske. And he delivered, scorching the Chiefs for 32 points, including 18 in the first half of Brodhead's 60-45 win.

"When things are working we have to keep going with them. It was working and we were getting the ball inside to him and it paid off," head coach Brian Kammerer said.

Panoske, who came into the game averaging 20.4 points per game, also had six rebounds and five blocked shots.

The Cardinals forced Big Foot out of the lane and had a hand up on ever jump shot.

"I can't give our kids enough credit for getting it done defensively. Lately our guys are starting to buy in and realize that we have to bring some defensive pressure if we want to win some games here down the stretch," Kammerer said.

Brodhead used a 9-0 run to jump out to an 11-5 lead in the first quarter, six of which came from Panoske. In the second, the 6-feet, 9-inch junior erupted, scoring the Cardinals' first eight points in the frame and the Cardinals held on to a double-digit lead for much of the period.

"In warm-ups, I felt off and whenever I feel off in warm-ups, they fall in games," Panoske said. "I didn't want to force anything and I made sure that if the shot wasn't there that I wouldn't take it. And when they were there I put it up."

A late run by Big Foot made it 27-21 at halftime and the Chiefs kept the momentum well into the third. Panoske and fellow forward Nick Jacobson found themselves on the bench in foul trouble midway through the frame, despite the Cardinals holding a slim three-possession lead. What followed was the continual emergence of senior guard Jake Cole.

"People talk a lot about J.J., but I think Cole deserves a lot of credit as well. Jake does not get enough credit for what he does out there. He leads by handling the ball and controlling the tempo out there," Kammerer said. "He took it over in the third. He knew we had some big guys that were out and he stepped up big time."

Cole, who averaged 11.8 points per game coming in, outscored Big Foot in the final four minutes, including a 3-pointer and a nifty baseline drive to the basket that put the Cardinals ahead 38-26.

"I try being a leader out there, so I was trying to get it done for me team," Cole said.

Panoske was pleased that by the time he got back on the floor, the lead was not only intact, but the momentum was back in Brodhead's favor.

"It was relaxing when the guys stepped up. Our guys have been getting better and better game by game. Hopefully we keep stepping it up until playoff time," Panoske said.

In the fourth, while in the bonus, Brodhead hit its free throws to close out the game. The Cardinals shot 16 of 20 from the charity stripe in the period and posted a 22-14 scoring advantage in the frame.

Cole, who hit two 3s overall, finished with 16 points and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the line in the fourth. Alex Wallace was 4 of 6 from the line in the fourth and had six points. Alec McGreevy led Big Foot with 14 points and Mike Walker had 11.

"It was a team effort and we all did well," Cole said. "(Big Foot was) working us and we were working them. It was a fun game. We're trying to be a spoiler (in conference). It's fun right now."

Brodhead trying to shake things up late in the Rock Valley Conference season. The Cardinals (11-8, 8-6 RVC South) are in third place. Orfordville Parkview (14-6, 10-4) is the leader with Big Foot (9-10, 8-5) just a game behind. Clinton (10-9, 7-7) and Beloit Turner (12-7, 7-7) are also playing spoiler.

"It's up to four or five teams. It's kind of an amazing race," Kammerer said. "Our team is not focused on that. To be honest, I think we focused on (conference) too much and it hurt us. We just have to make sure we're ready to play good basketball come tournament time."