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 Panther Boys Play Well in Loss to Class 3A Mt. Vernon

January 23, 2008 - Coach John Howell’s Knightstown Panthers got a good taste of what superior competition is like when they visited Mt. Vernon for a varsity basketball game Saturday night. While the game temporarily took on the looks of a blowout, the Panthers battled back and walked away knowing they are better than their record indicates.

Mt. Vernon (7-4), one of the largest Class 3A schools in the state, defeated the Panthers 66-57, handing the team its 10th loss of the season. Despite being down most of the game and trailing by as many as 15 points, the Panthers battled back against the taller and quicker Hoosier Heritage Conference (HHC) team.

On paper the Panthers had no business being in this game, but the team responded to the challenge the Marauders put on the court. Mt. Vernon had the Panthers by more than two inches per man, is a much larger school, and plays extremely tougher competition.

Despite the odds and a slow start, Knightstown gave it one of their better efforts of the season.

The team fell behind by 15 points at the end of the third quarter, thanks to another one of their scoring lulls in which the Marauders went on a 14-2 run that took less than four minutes. When Jordan Bearhope hit a free throw at the 4:15 mark of the third quarter, Knightstown trailed just 34-30. But by the end of the period Mt. Vernon had scored 15 points while the Panthers hit just two-of-seven shots. The Marauders appeared to be running away with the game, going up by 16 at one point and leading 49-34 heading into the final period.

Howell then changed things up a little and sent his starters to the bench. On the floor were seniors Kyle Buckley and Bryce Cole, and juniors Brice Biehl, Anthony Hibbert and Jordan Back. They brought a new energy to the floor, and the impact was immediate.

Cole hit one-of-two free throws, and then came back with a three-pointer that ignited the Panther bench, now occupied by the starters.

But the Marauders responded in kind, getting a couple of buckets to stay on top at 53-38 with 4:50 to play. The starters then returned and must have received Howell’s message, because they played with renewed fire.

A pair of Zach Apollos free throws were wrapped around a nice slicing layup from junior Kelton Lane. The Marauders again countered with a couple of buckets and were still up 57-42 when the Panthers made a nice run. Lane hit a jumper and Apollos followed that with an old-fashioned three-point play that cut the lead to 10.

The Marauders sandwiched four free throws around another Zach Apollos basket and it was 61-49 with 2:11 on the game clock. The Panthers continued to scramble, fighting and diving for loose balls and showing a spirit the team hadn’t displayed most of the season, save the previous night’s win over Shenandoah.

Seth Apollos hit one free throw and Zach followed with two more that cut the Marauder lead to nine points. Lane hit a pair of free throws and Zach followed with a bucket on a great pass from Lane, cutting the lead to seven points at 63-56 with 14 seconds left.

Even though the comeback fell short, the Panthers left the court with a moral victory. They fought an even second half battle against a much taller, more experienced and larger school. They outscored the Marauders 23-17 in the fourth quarter, including 15-9 in the last three minutes.

It wasn’t his best game of the season, but sophomore Zach Apollos should have learned he can play inside with some of the best big men in the area. He finished the game with 19 points and 11 rebounds, doing that going against All-HHC center Brad Voltz and a Mt. Vernon lineup that included five different players who stood 6’4” or taller.

One big difference in this game and others was the fourth quarter absence of freshman Seth Apollos. The long-range sharpshooter got just one attempt in the final frame because Mt. Vernon keyed its defense to not give him a shot. After he scored eight third quarter points on a trey and two fielders, Marauder coach Steve Lynch moved his zone out to the perimeter whenever the younger Apollos was on the floor.

The Panthers responded by going inside to Zach, who scored 12 of his 19 points in the final frame.

The Panthers also got another double-digit (11) scoring game from Lane, who has been more consistent since December than any other Panther. Seth Apollos scored 10 points.

Bearhope and Biehl both added five points, while Cole and Kyle Buckley both had another good game off the bench with four and two points, respectively, as well as some solid defense against Voltz and the Mt. Vernon inside game. Jordan Back also had one point. The Panthers hit just 15-of-28 free throws, but the Marauders didn’t fare any better, knocking down just 18-of-32.

Knightstown did a good job of shutting down the vaunted Mt. Vernon inside game, but senior point guard Craig Aldridge made them pay with a team-high 17 points.



Panthers (57)

Zach Apollos 6 6-10 19, Kelton Lane 4 2-4 11, Seth Apollos 4 1-2 10, Jordan Bearhope 1 3-4 5, Brice Biehl 2 1-2 5, Bryce Cole 1 1-2 4, Kyle Buckley 1 0-0 2, Jordan Back 0 1-2 1, Travis Titus 0 0-0 0, Anthony Hibbert 0 0-2 0, Colton Kinnaman 0 0-0.

Totals: 19 15-28 57

3-pointers: Cole, Lane, Zach Apollos, Seth Apollos.


Marauders (66)

Craig Aldridge 17, Brad Voltz 12, Tyler Stafford 9, Donny Anderson 7, Kyle Banayote 4, Jake Stafford 4, P.J. Hubert 4, D’Armond Davis 2, John Williams 2, Nathan Bundy 2, Daniel Turner 2, Ben Holliday 1.

Totals: 23 18-32 66.

3-pointers: Aldridge 2.


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