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Young Panther Team Will Grow Up, Turn the Corner
After losing its first two games of the season, Knightstown’s basketball team is in unfamiliar territory from a fan perspective.
Over the past four seasons – during the Chad Ballenger era – the Panthers have won 19, 21, 17 and 13 games. Their collective 70-25 record includes three straight Sectional 41 titles.
They didn’t play that bad of a game in the opener at Tri, losing 75-64. At home Saturday night against Wes-Del, the team pretty much looked lost most of the time. At one stage they were behind by 29 points, but realistically, they were never in that game, losing 54-35.
The reaction of some Panther fans I spoke to during and after the game was one of doom and gloom. They had just watched their team die a slow death of 5,000 paper cuts.
This is where I should recycle one of my columns from football season and just cut and paste. Let’s see … this is what I told the football team: In many areas you continue to get better and before this season is over, someone is going to pay the price for that improved play.
Well, that happened, just as its going to happen with the basketball team.
I believe it’s way too early to make a judgment on this year’s team, but I’m more than confident there is enough talent on the floor to compete in the sectional when late February rolls around.
I can’t disagree with those who argue that watching the team struggle Saturday night was painful. But it’s really early in the season.
This year’s Panther team has many of the ingredients necessary to be better than .500, but it’s going to take the coach a while to find his combinations. Experience will increase confidence, and once these kids get a dozen or so games under their belts I believe they are going to play some very entertaining basketball.
To those I’ve spoken with who have already written off the team, I say you are missing the bigger picture.
This is an extremely young and talented group. Everyone who watches them play will be able to say later on that they saw the mold begin to take shape. They will bear witness to this team growing up, gaining confidence, and setting the table for what is to come in the next few years.
Knightstown isn’t going to win a state championship in basketball this year. But personally, I don’t want to miss watching these young kids begin the journey that will give them a shot at that coveted trophy. I believe that will happen before this year’s sophomores graduate.
We just all need to be patient.
Brady Lightfoot is a Panther killer
Last Wednesday night the Tri High Titan senior gave Knightstown Panther fans one more reason to be glad he’ll graduate next spring.
Lightfoot had a massive game against the Panthers, putting together a triple-double on the basketball court with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. The Titans won the game 75-64.
Earlier this school year, Lightfoot was brutal against his rival Knightstown football team. In two games – one during the regular season, the other in the sectional semi-final – Lightfoot ran 70 yards for one touchdown and threw for five more scores. Against the Panthers, he had 352 passing yards and those five touchdowns without having a pass intercepted. Nearly one of every three completions went for a touchdown.
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