GOOSE LAKE — Its lead, once as big as 11, was down to four at halftime.
So, the Northeast boys basketball team’s defense made sure it would not shrink again.
The Rebels limited visiting Bellevue to just four points in the third quarter to turn their four-point halftime advantage into a 13-point lead in an eventual 51-36 victory.
The lead got rebuilt quickly. Two different offensive put-backs by Judd Swanton and a Carter Pataska hoop inside made up a 6-0 run to kick off the second half, making it 29-19.
The Comets ended the push with a hoop, but that was one of just two in the stanza for the visitors.
Pataska and Swanton, meanwhile, struck again with back-to-back hoops and another later 3-0 push made it 36-23 heading to the fourth.
The lead never fell below 11 the rest of the way.
In fact, it grew to 16 twice before settling at 15.
The four-point third quarter was actually the Comets’ second low-scoring frame of the game, but the Rebels were unable to take advantage of the first.
Bellevue scored just five points in the opening quarter, but the Rebels only dropped in six of their own — a Pataska three-point play and a Cade Hughes trey.
The Rebels’ offense, however, began to come to life in the second quarter.
An 11-2 start to the stanza — buoyed by three-pointers from Alijah Dopson and Hughes and a three-point play for Jimmy Weispfenning — made it 17-9 and the Rebels pushed the margin to double figures at 23-12.
The Comets, though, responded by scoring the final seven points of the half to make it a four-point game (23-19) at halftime.
Pataska (15) and Swanton (14) accounted for 29 of the Rebels’ 51 points with the latter also grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking four shots.
Hughes added eight points, while Weispfenning had seven. Hughes, Swanton and Weispfenning all dished out three assists.
The victory wrapped up a busy week for the Rebels, who attempted to shake off the rust of a long lay-off — their previous game before Monday was Dec. 5 — with back-to-back road contests on Monday and Tuesday.
A pair of tough foes, however, stifled the Rebels’ return.
A big fourth quarter carried Mid-Prairie past Northeast in Monday’s 2021 opener.
The Rebels brought a 37-32 lead into the final stanza, but the Golden Hawks erupted for 21 points in the final eight minutes to jump in front for a 53-46 victory.
Pataska led the way for the Rebels with 16 points, while Swanton added 12 of his own. Both players complemented their offensive nights by pulling down eight rebounds.
Dopson knocked down a trio of three-pointers and finished with nine points, while Hughes added six. Hayden Lee dished out four assists and joined Hughes with two steals.
A night later, points proved hard to come by in a visit to unbeaten Monticello.
The Panthers — ranked fifth in Class 3A — limited the Rebels to just six points in the first half and 22 points overall in a 50-22 victory.
Swanton accounted for nearly half of the points with 10, while adding 10 rebounds for a double-double. Pataska added four points and five boards and Hughes dished out three assists and came up with two steals.