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 STATEMENT GAME: KHS 77, BRV 64; Hibbert, Apollos, Panthers Put Together Complete Game

February 11, 2009 -  Coach John Howell’s Knightstown Panthers came as close as they have all season to putting together a complete, 32-minute effort against Blue River Friday night.

The Panthers received a dominating performance from center Zach Apollos and the added bonus of the best game in the career of senior Anthony Hibbert during a 77-64 win over the visiting Vikings.

The win came against a Viking team that had previously defeated New Castle, Shenandoah and Eastern Hancock, three squads that own wins over the Panthers this season.

Despite a few ups and downs on this night – Knightstown allowed the Vikings to go on runs of 23-12 in the second period and 9-0 in the fourth quarter – the Panthers mostly stayed to the game plan and took care of business. Every time the Vikings did make a run, someone had the answer and stole away the momentum.

“We’re starting to play better basketball and things are starting to come together for us,” Howell said. “We starting to play better as a team and that is showing up on the court.”

Blue River’s scouting report showed that one key to stopping the Panthers would be to take Zach Apollos out of the game, if possible. But Friday night the Knightstown big man mostly had his way inside, scoring a game-high 26 points and pulling down 16 rebounds.

The Viking scouting report missed the point on two key aspects of the game. Blue River opted to use a full court press against the Panthers, who were without starting point guard Brice Biehl. Biehl missed the game due to an illness.

The press rarely, if ever, worked and Knightstown got a lot of easy looks throughout the contest. Always a step behind because the Panthers broke the press easily, the Vikings often found themselves fouling Knightstown when the Panthers had the numbers on a break-away. That resulted in 23 Blue River fouls and Knightstown hitting a blistering 26-of-32 from the foul line.

But the other big miss on the scouting report was more of a surprise. Panther senior Anthony Hibbert had a break-out game, scoring a career-high 21 points on 8-of-12 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers. Hibbert consistently sliced between Viking defenders and aggressively took the ball to the hoop. Hibbert had been averaging about 4.5 points per game and his previous high this year had been 10 points.

Another big key to the game was free throw shooting, although the two teams combined to hit better than 82 percent. The Vikings canned 16-of-19 freebies in the game, but Knightstown countered with 26-of-32 accuracy, including 13-of-16 in the fourth quarter.

The game was a nip-and-tuck battle from the beginning, although the Panthers threatened several times to pull away. Each time, the Vikings came back with some clutch buckets to make a game of it again. Eventually, the wind came out of the Vikings’ sails in the fourth quarter.

Knightstown jumped out to an early 9-2 lead, only to see Blue River respond with a 23-12 run over the middle eight minutes of the first half. That gave the Vikings a 25-21 lead with 4:30 to play in the second quarter.

Hibbert scored eight of his nine first-half points in the second quarter and Knightstown closed out the last few minutes of the half with a 10-4 run. Blue River’s last lead of the game, 29-28, came with 2:02 left in the first half. There were five lead changes in the second quarter alone.

Zach Apollos scored the last three points of the first half and the Panthers held a slim 31-29 advantage after having been up by as much as seven on three separate occasions.

The tide turned in the second quarter when Hibbert went crazy and doubled his season scoring average in that period alone. He hit 4-of-5 field goals and scored 10 points as Knightstown increased its lead to 12 points. Zach Apollos scored the other eight points for the Panthers in the period, and Hibbert’s trey, followed seconds by a free throw, put Knightstown up 49-37 with 3:40 still to play in the quarter.

But the Panthers failed to score in the last three-and-one-half minutes of the quarter, and the Vikings took advantage by cutting the lead to 49-42 heading into the final period.

Knightstown extended the lead in the early minutes of the final frame to 14 points before opening the door one more time for the Vikings. Senior Kelton Lane opened up the final period with a long three-pointer, and a rebound-basket by Zach Apollos was followed by a Hibbert bucket on a nifty pass from Lane. Suddenly it was 56-42 and that quick 7-0 Panther run had taken just 50 seconds of time in the final frame.

But in just under three minutes the Panthers saw that 14-point lead dwindle to just four, at 57-53, with less than five minutes to play. An 11-1 Viking run was aided by four Panther turnovers and put the outcome of this one in doubt once again.

With 4:48 to play and the Panthers in the one-and-one bonus, junior Travis Titus calmly sank two free throws to stop the bleeding. Titus would make the trip several more times to the charity stripe in the final period, knocking down all six of his attempts with clutch shooting.

After the first two Titus free throws, sophomore Seth Apollos hit just his second field goal of the game, a slicing drive that increased the lead to 61-53.

Still in the game, Blue River cut the margin to 65-60 with 2:40 to play before the Panthers turned on the burners with a 12-4 run. Seth Apollos hit brother Zach with a slick pass for two, and the big man was fouled on the play. His free throw completed the three-point play and increased the lead to eight points.

Knightstown then hit its last seven free throws down the stretch to turn back any Viking thoughts of a rally.

Zach Apollos hit 9-of-16 field goals and 8-of-12 from the charity stripe for his game-high 26 points. The rest of his teammates combined for 18-of-20 free throw shooting.

Hibbert had his career-high 21-point night and also pulled down six rebounds.

Seth Apollos scored eight points and had seven rebounds, while Kelton Lane scored seven points but had five of those during that fourth quarter run in which Knightstown put the game away.

Titus and Jordan Back both had six points, while Jordan Hauk scored three.

The Panthers are now 8-7 and have won three straight after losing four consecutive games. The team hosts Class 3A Greenfield-Central (2-13) Thursday. The boys have a make-up game at Sectional 42 rival Centerville scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday.


Score By Quarters

Blue River 13 29 42 64

Knightstown 15 31 49 77

Blue River (64)

Player Fg-a Ft-a REB TP

Stephen Honn 2-4 0-0 4 4

Aaron Knupp 5-8 1-1 2 11

Josh Gossage 1-4 1-2 5 4

Bryant Hall 7-14 5-6 6 24

Jared Lawrence 1-10 6-6 1 8

J.T. Griggs 0-1 0-0 2 0

Tyler Walker 2-12 1-2 3 7

Josh Neal 2-3 2-2 4 6

Totals: 20-56 16-19 27 64

Knightstown (77)

Player Fg-a Ft-a REB TP

Anthony Hibbert 8-12 3-5 6 21

Seth Apollos 2-5 4-4 7 8

Zach Apollos 9-16 8-12 16 26

Travis Titus 0-3 6-6 3 6

Kelton Lane 2-7 2-2 1 7

Jordan Hauk 1-4 1-1 4 3

Jordan Back 2-3 2-2 4 6

Drew Martin 0-0 0-0 2 0

Anthony Forshey 0-0 0-0 0 0

Lane Fields 0-1 0-0 0 0

Totals: 24-51 26-32 43 77

3-point field goals: K – 3 (Hibbert 2, Lane). BR – 8 (Hall 5, Walker 2 Gossage).

Turnovers: K – 18; BR – 17.

Personal Fouls: K – 19; BR – 23.

Assists: K – 17 (S. Apollos 5, Z. Apollos 6, Titus 3)



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