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 Panther Troubles Have Simple Solution

All right, all of you Knightstown Panther basketball fans gather around and let’s talk about this year’s boys team.

I know a lot of you have been scratching your heads, wondering what is going on with a boys basketball team that can play so well at times and so lousy at others. Let me reassure you, it’s not as confusing as you may think.

The Panthers are 4-9 this season and could easily be 11-2. I know, I know, some of you think I’m nuts when I say that, while others think I’m nuts regardless. But here are the facts and you can torture them all you want, but they still point toward the same solution.

This team turns it all around with court leadership. Someone, in this case multiple someones, need to step up and refuse to lose a game.

The Panthers could have won eight of the nine games they have lost this season, but in each contest they allowed one particular run to occur that changed the outcome. Here are the facts:

    * Centerville, Jan. 11: a 23-6 run over the third and fourth quarters resulted in a 63-60 loss.

    * North Decatur, Jan. 4: a 15-2 run over three minutes in the fourth quarter resulted in a 59-57 loss.

    * Guerin Catholic, Dec. 28: a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter resulted in a 65-57 loss.

    * Triton Central, Dec. 21: a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter resulted in a 50-37 loss.

    * Eastern Hancock, Dec. 14: a 22-5 run over the third and fourth quarters resulted in a 63-53 loss.

    * Lapel, Dec. 8: a 21-8 run over six minutes resulted in a 61-52 loss.

    * Union County, Nov. 30: a 20-7 run in the fourth quarter resulted in a 53-52 loss.

    * Wes-Del, Nov. 24: an 8-0 run in overtime resulted in a 68-63 loss.

That’s eight games in which the Panthers have plenty of opportunities to win and instead went into a scoring lull that turned the game around. Each time Knightstown could not answer with a basket when they needed one.

But the face of the team has been changing recently, and some players have started to step up. That’s the primary reason why the team played so well against North Decatur (7-4 at the time) and Centerville (7-2), losing those two games by a combined five points. That’s playing very competitive basketball against two of the best teams they’ve faced this season.

The Panthers had no business losing either of those games, and should have beaten Wes-Del, Guerin Catholic, and Union County in the first meeting. That accounts for five more wins.

By eliminating those long scoring lulls, the team could have beaten Eastern Hancock and Triton Central as well.

When you look at the big picture, things could be a lot worse. You could be a Hagerstown Tiger fan. All they did last week was lose to Winchester by 92 points, 124-32. That’s not a misprint.

The Tigers are on the Panther schedule, as well as several more teams Knightstown could defeat during the season’s stretch run. The combined record of the remaining opponents is 30-54, with just Mt. Vernon (6-4) and Waldron (6-5) having winning records. Class 3A Rushville (5-6) will be a tough opponent to close the regular season, and Class 4A Greenfield-Central will be a good test.

If this Panther gets some leadership down the stretch, there’s no reason they can’t win at least six of their last eight games. But they are going to have to find a way to eliminate those dead stretches that have resulted in no fewer than eight of their nine losses this season.

Friday night will be another outstanding measuring stick. One of the longest-standing basketball rivalries in Panther history is in the way Friday. Shenandoah, also struggling this season at 4-8, will be the best chance for these young Panthers to show they are really growing up.

It’ll also be a great opportunity for boys basketball fans to see the talented young Lady Panthers in action. The girls have been suffering through the same growing pains as the boys, and also appear primed to come out of it this weekend.

I believe the boys are going to turn the corner and set the stage for a dramatic run through the rest of the season. Trust me, this is a game you don’t want to miss.


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