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 KHS Varsity Boys Grab Third Place Spot in Franklin Co. Tourney

January 2, 2008 - The pattern for the Knightstown Panthers in nine of their 11 games this season has been to get a lead and then lose it. That’s resulted in the team falling down five times and holding on to win in four others.

Friday night in the Franklin County Holiday Tournament, the Panthers held on to a big lead and defeated Cambridge City Lincoln 55-46. That effort garnered the team a respectable third place finish in the tourney and gave the Panther team its second win over the Golden Eagles this season.

The night before, the Panthers failed to keep a fourth quarter lead and lost to 8-1 and eventual tourney champion Guerin Catholic, 65-57. A first round 60-52 win over Union County, which avenged an earlier season loss, gave the Panthers a 2-1 record in the tourney and a little momentum heading into the second half of the season.

In the consolation game against Lincoln, Knightstown got outstanding efforts from several players and they needed every one of them. A horrible first half in which the Panthers scored just 17 points was erased by an outstanding third quarter run. The Panthers went into a survival mode in the final period that secured the 55-46 win.

In fact, 17 just isn’t a good number for the Panthers. Earlier this season the team scored just 17 points in the second half while squandering a lead against Eastern Hancock and eventually losing the game. The boys lost a lead while allowing 17 fourth quarter points in the first match against Lincoln, which forced an overtime the Panthers eventually won.

Knightstown hit 16-of-23 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off a furious Lincoln rally. The Panthers had held the Golden Eagles to 23 points through three quarters, but allowed 22 over the final eight minutes.

Key plays by role players are what kept the Panthers in a game in which they played uninspired basketball. After the Panthers had fallen behind 6-3 during a sloppy first quarter, senior Jordan Bearhope came off the bench to hit back-to-back field goals to tie the game at 7-7 after one frame.

Lincoln took a 16-11 lead in the second quarter before senior Kelton Lane swished a 15-footer and followed that with a long trey that gave the Panthers a 17-16 halftime lead. It was the only lead Knightstown had in the opening 16 minutes, and KHS shot just six-of-21 from the field.

But a different team took the floor for the Panthers in the third quarter. After the Golden Eagles took their last lead at 18-17, Knightstown caught fire and went on an 18-3 run. Lincoln couldn’t handle the Panther full-court press and Lane continued to have the hot hand. Big man Zach Apollos, who did not score in the first half, hit three fielders in the third quarter. Lane drilled a pair of treys and another layup as the Panthers exploded to take a 35-21 lead.

The press resulted in several steals and a few transition buckets. Colton Kinnaman picked the pocket of a Lincoln player and hit Brice Biehl for a fast-break bucket. Biehl then stole the ball and that led to a pair of free throws by Apollos that increased the lead to 42-26 with five minutes to play in the game.

But with this Panther team, almost no lead is big enough. The officiating crew didn’t help matters much, either.

The next three times down the floor the referees whistled Knightstown for fouls after baskets, resulted in two straight old fashioned three-point plays and another bucket. Suddenly, the 16-point lead was down to 42-34.

After Bearhope hit three-of-four free throws to up the margin to 45-34, Lincoln responded with five more quick points to cut the lead to six. The rough play continued and the officials did little to stop it until Panther Kyle Buckley received a gash to the head. The sight of blood on the floor apparently caught the attention of the officials, who began to blow their whistles more frequently.

Lincoln managed to cut the lead to 47-43 with 1:41 to play and for a brief moment it appeared the Panther team was poised to lose another big second half lead. But after a free throw by Kinnaman, the Knightstown defense forced consecutive Lincoln turnovers. That changed the game’s final 90 seconds.

Biehl calmly sank two free throws, and a clutch offensive rebound by Apollos sent him to the line for one more freebie that increased the lead to 51-43 and secured the game.

Lane had an outstanding game for the Panthers, scoring a team-high 13 points. None were bigger than his five in the second quarter and eight more in the third. Biehl scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, including five free throws down the stretch.

Zach Apollos just missed his fifth straight double-double, finishing with nine points and 13 rebounds. Kinnaman scored eight points, while Bearhope had a clutch seven. Bryce Cole scored three from the free throw line, while Seth Apollos and Anthony Hibbert scored two apiece.

Brett and Garrett Singer supplied all but two of the Eagles' 23 fourth-quarter points. Garrett Singer finished with 22 points, while Brett Singer had 13.

Zach Apollos was named to the all-tourney team, which included Randy Shera (Franklin Central), Ronald Ross (Washington), Teddy Maris (Washington), Brett Singer (Lincoln), Sean Arnold (Randolph Southern), Mark Dirksen (Seton Catholic), Alex McPeek (Guerin) and Ryan Nowicki (Guerin).


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