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Panther Freshmen Win WRAC Championship
February 6, 2008 - The players who score the points usually get all of the glory in high school basketball. Knightstown’s freshmen players used more of a team defense approach in winning their second consecutive White River Athletic Conference tournament.
Playing pure team basketball, the Panthers crushed Shenandoah 50-27 in the championship game of the WRAC tournament, which was played on the Raider’s home court. Knightstown advanced to final by blasting Wes-Del 51-39.
Against the Raiders in the title game, coach Darrin Haines put his team in a full-court press that Shenandoah had no prayer of answering. Intense defensive pressure by the Panthers resulted in multiple Raider turnovers and Knightstown had eight steals in the game.
Before the smoke began to clear in the first quarter, the Panthers had shocked the hosts by opening up a 14-0 lead. So team-oriented was the Knightstown attack that 14 of the 22 field goals they hit in the game came on an assist from another player.
Shenandoah had dropped a few players down from the junior varsity roster to play in the freshman tourney, but it didn’t matter. The Panthers were on top of their game from the opening tip.
“Defensively, we played probably our best game of the year,” Haines said. “Everyone was looking to make that extra pass and the entire team played very unselfishly. I was very proud of all of them.”
The Panthers burst out the gates in the opening quarter and never gave the Raiders a chance. Danny Ortman scored six points in the opening quarter and Joey Wyatt added a three-pointer. Buckets by Lane Fields and Cody McDowell were all registered before the Raiders could get past the half-court mark.
Shenandoah scored four straight points after that initial 14-0 lead, and played better in the second quarter. Knightstown led 24-15 at the half when Fields and McDowell added four points each. They then dominated again in the third period to put the game out of reach.
Brandon Carrender knocked down a trey and Fields hit three times from a two-point range as Knightstown rolled 14-3 in the third quarter. Nolan Hall hit a three and McDowell added a bucket as the Panthers extended their lead to 38-18 after three quarters.
Six different players hit buckets in the fourth quarter, enabling the team to blow out the Raiders and leave no doubt as to whom the best team in the WRAC was this season.
Fields, McDowell, Carrender, Dillon Pugsley, Wes Hammer and Kamron Beavers all hit buckets over the final six minutes to push the final margin to 23 points. Fields finished with a great game, tallying 14 points and pulling down seven rebounds. Hall had four points, collected three steals and dished out three assists. McDowell had 10 points and six rebounds.
Point guard Joey Wyatt had another outstanding floor game with three points on a trey, three assists and two steals. He had no turnovers in directing the Panther offense. Carrender had five points and two assists, while Ortman had four rebounds to go along with his eight points. Pugsley, Hammer, and Beavers all finished with two points as the Panthers had nine players score in the game.
The WRAC tourney title gave the Panther freshman basketball and overall record of 9-9 for the season.
Knightstown advanced to the WRAC tourney championship by cruising past the Warriors in the first round 51-39. A huge second quarter run of 19-7 proved to be the difference in this game.
The two teams battled evenly through one quarter when Hall nailed a trey and two field goals for seven of his 14 points. McDowell added three points and the two teams were tied up at 10-all after one frame.
The Panther then opened the floodgates over the next six minutes, putting up 19 points. As was the case against Shenandoah, the majority of the Panther baskets came on assists from a teammate. Knightstown players assisted on 13 buckets in this game, bring the tourney total to 27.
Knightstown also found the range from three-point land in the second quarter. Wyatt drilled two treys, while Hall and Ortman added long-range bombs for three. Fields scored six points inside the paint and the Panthers forged a 29-17 halftime lead.
They were never seriously threatened after that point, leading 41-30 after three quarters.
Both Fields and Hall scored 14 points in the victory over the Warriors. Fields also blocked two shots and had four rebounds, while Hall had three steals, three boards and two assists.
Ortman dished out four assists, scored eight points, had three steals and two rebounds, and didn’t commit a turnover in an outstanding game. Wyatt had six points and all of those came in that crucial second quarter run. He also had two assists and two steals.
McDowell finished with five points, five rebounds and two assists. Carrender and Hammer added two points apiece and Hammer also had three steals.
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