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 Mohawks Skin Panthers 67-57

February 20, 2008 - Knightstown coach John Howell had two primary concerns before his team took the floor at Waldron last Friday night. One, he worried that his Panthers might be a little impatient and fire at will without working the ball for a good shot. Two, Howell was concerned that the host Mohawks would use their speed in the transition game to take advantage of that.

Both of those concerns became reality and the end result was another disappointing loss for the Panthers. Waldron won the game 67-57, primarily by jumping out to an early lead while hitting 12 of their first 13 shots from the field.

It’s not like the Mohawks were lighting it up from all over the gymnasium, either. An overwhelming majority of their shots were driving lay-ups because of a lackluster Panther defense, and even easier layups via several fast breaks that all followed a Panther turnover.

Knightstown turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter and Waldron hit 12-of-13 shots – all within five feet – to take a commanding 25-14 lead. That blistering shooting percentage was an uncanny 92 percent because the only jump shot the Mohawks took was the one shot they missed. The seven first quarter Panther turnovers resulted in 15 Waldron points, and the Mohawks scored 30 points off of Knightstown turnovers in the game.

“We just took too many quick shots without trying to work the ball, and Waldron got their transition game going,” Howell said. “For some reason we just didn’t play defense and they just dribbled around us and got a lay-up. We let them score a lot of points off of turnovers and we’re going to have to work on those things.

“Ball penetration has been killing us. We’ve got a lot of things we need to work on and those are the things we’re going to be talking about and addressing this week.”

The game started out as if would be a nip-and-tuck battle, with the two teams trading buckets. Zach Apollos scored on an 18-footer, and then hit inside on a nice pass from Colton Kinnaman. Kinnaman then nailed a three-pointer and the Panthers led 7-6 with 5:05 left in the opening quarter.

But the Panthers turned the ball over five times in the next three minutes, and Waldron scored on a fast-break lay-up on all five occasions. With two minutes left in the first quarter the Mohawks had gone on a 15-0 run to lead 21-7.

Jordan Bearhope scored three points, Brice Biehl two and Bryce Cole two, but the Mohawks got two more fast-break baskets to lead 25-14 after just one quarter. At that point in the game Waldron was 12-of-13 from the field.

The Mohawks cooled off considerably in the second quarter when the Panthers cut off the lanes and stopped the inside penetration. Waldron managed just two-of-seven field goals in the second quarter, but that still left them shooting at a 14-of-21 clip (67 percent) for the first half.

Knightstown made a run in the second quarter, getting five points from Biehl, three more from Anthony Hibbert off the bench, and four from Bearhope. The Panthers went on a 12-5 run to cut the margin to 30-26 at halftime. But the first half didn’t take on the look of a normal Knightstown attack. The team’s top three scorers, Zach Apollos, Seth Apollos and Kelton Lane, had four points between them, and all came from Zach in the first quarter.

Waldron’s full-court press again caused the Panthers problems in the third quarter and Knightstown turned the ball over six more times. Five of those six miscues resulted directly in 10 Mohawk points. Add in a four-for-14 shooting performance by Knightstown in the third quarter and the Panthers were down 46-35 after three frames.

Waldron’s aggressive defensive plan was working to perfection, aided by more one-pass-and-shoot approaches by the Panthers, as well as some seriously questionable officiating. Zach Apollos has held nearly every time down the court as the Mohawks double-teamed the big man on every Panther offensive possession. Despite being held, hacked and elbowed, Zach never made a trip to the free throw line the entire game.

After Waldron scored on another fast-break basket that resulted from another Panther turnover, it appeared all over at 48-35. But the Panthers weren’t done yet.

Zach Apollos scored inside, and Hibbert stole the ball and hit a lay-up that made it 50-42. On a missed free throw by the Mohawks, Zach Apollos grabbed the rebound and went the length of the court, touching the ball in off the glass to pull the Panthers to within six points at 50-44 with six minutes to play.

Immediately after that Apollos blocked the Waldron shot – his sixth block of the game – and the Panthers had a chance to get to within four. But another turnover was scooped up by Waldron’s Brandon Larrison, who drove inside for two crucial points.

Zach Apollos answered again on the inside and Cole’s free throw made it 54-47. Then Biehl fouled out with 4:32 on the game clock, and Apollos was called for an intentional foul just moments later after hard contact at mid-court.

Waldron took advantage of that by nailing both free throws and then scoring on another fast break to put the game out of reach.

Zach Apollos was the lone Panther in double figures with 14 points. Hibbert scored eight in a good job off the bench, but went down after very hard contact late in the game, suffering a knee injury that caused him to miss Saturday night’s game. As was the case most of the night, there was no whistle on that hard foul.

Biehl and Bearhope both scored seven. Kinnaman had six on two treys with five assists, while Cole, Lane and Seth Apollos all scored five points. Seth’s markers all came in the last minute of the game as Waldron’s defensive approach coming in was to stop the two Apollos brothers.

Brandon Larrison scored 26 points and Peter Nieman added 15 points to lead Waldron. The Mohawks improved to 10-7 while the Panthers fell to 7-12.

 

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