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 This Time, Cats Toss Out Dogs; Panthers Knock Off Sectional 42 Rival Centerville 61-55

February 18, 2009 -  In what might be the biggest win of the John Howell coaching era, the Knightstown Panthers did what most thought wasn’t possible Saturday afternoon. They beat the Centerville Bulldogs on the road.

Knightstown’s 61-55 victory on the Bulldogs’ home court sent notice to all of the teams in the sectional field that these are no longer the old Panthers that were 5-7 at one point this year. Centerville had already beaten everyone in Sectional 42 and had just Knightstown remaining to complete a regular season sweep of the entire field.

The win was the fifth straight for the Panthers and improved their record to 10-7 with three games to play. The IHSAA will be drawing the tournament pairings tomorrow (Thursday) and Knightstown appears in as good a shape as anyone in its sectional.

The Panthers led from the onset and never fell behind until just 1:25 was left in the game, when the Bulldogs completed a rally to take a 51-50 lead. But an 11-4 run over those last 85 seconds proved that this is not the same team that has buckled under pressure so many times before. Instead, Knightstown responded with a furious and aggressive game to close out the deal.

The game was hard-fought and extremely competitive from the tip-off, as is usually the case when Knightstown and Centerville athletes square up against one another. While so much hoopla usually surrounds rivalry games between the Panthers and Tri and Eastern Hancock, it is usually Centerville who the Panthers end up meeting in tournament play in every sport across the board.

The entire contest featured aggressive, physical play by both teams, as well as the usual collection of questionable calls and lack of control by the officiating crew.

Behind two treys by Brice Biehl that opened and then closed the first quarter, Knightstown had a 14-9 lead despite being on the wrong side of a lopsided 5-1 foul ratio. Kelton Lane then nailed two treys and a field goal to score eight second quarter points as the Panthers led 23-20 at the halftime break. Lane and Biehl combined for 16 of Knightstown’s points as the Panthers got much-needed clutch guard play. Big man Zach Apollos was busy inside dealing with 6-6 Brad Siegel, 6-5 Drew Schauss and 6-3 Jacob Stewart, while Seth Apollos was riding the bench for the first 16 minutes.

The Panthers got a defensive lift on the inside from Jordan Back and Anthony Hibbert, the latter yielding nine inches to Seigel, but holding his ground nonetheless.

Centerville’s goal coming into the game was to use their big men to shut down Zach Apollos, forcing Knightstown to win the game from the outside. Zach would eventually finish with 10 points and seven rebounds, both well below his averages, but it didn’t matter because of the outstanding guard play Howell got from his charges.

Seth Apollos returned to the lineup in the third quarter and immediately made his presence known. He scored five points in the third stanza and the Panthers got three-pointers from Hibbert, Biehl and Lane. That outstanding guard play helped Knightstown go on an 8-0 run to open up a nine point lead. The score was 37-30 heading into the final quarter.

Zach Apollos scored four points and Seth nailed a 19-footer to maintain a nine-point margin at 44-35 with 5:36 to play. That’s when the Bulldogs showed how they had been 7-0 against Sectional 42 teams coming into the game. Centerville went on a 16-6 run and appeared to be taking control of the game.

Panther killer Stewart scored five points, Knightstown was whistled for two very questionable offensive fouls, and the Bulldogs took a 51-50 lead on a Schauss rebound basket with 1:25 to play. At that point, the game looked as if it had taken a turn similar to others previously this season, in which the Panthers were just unable to maintain their intensity and focus.

But the wild celebration in the home section of the Centerville stands would be short-lived. Seth Apollos, who had 12 points and seven rebounds in the second half, hit on a slick inside move and was fouled. His free throw completed the three-point play and put the Panthers back up by two, 53-51.

Schauss responded with a long two-pointer to tie the game, but Knightstown responded again when Seth Apollos made a brilliant no-look pass to a cutting Zach, who touched the ball off of the glass to return the lead to the Panthers at 55-53.

Jordan Hauk, who played a tremendous, hard-nosed defensive game, then scored on a fast-break lay-up that caught the Bulldogs by surprise and upped to lead to 57-53 with just 31 seconds left.

Seigel, who scored 12 of his game-high 16 points on rebound baskets, then hit inside to make it 57-55 with just 14.8 seconds to play.

On the ensuing in-bounds play, Knightstown threw the Bulldogs a curve when Biehl, normally the point guard who beats the press, went deep down the court. Seth Apollos hit him with the pass and Biehl was fouled with 13 seconds left.

The senior calmly sank both free throws – he was 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter – to increase the lead to 59-55. Then, after a Bulldog miss, Seth Apollos go the rebound and quickly gave the ball back to Biehl, who was sent to the free throw line again.

He nailed both to ice the game.

With Centerville focusing on stopping the inside game of Zach Apollos, Knightstown had to have a good performance out of its guards. That’s exactly what the Panthers got.

The team committed just nine turnovers – a season low – and got 15 points apiece from Biehl and Lane. Knightstown also hit 7-of-19 three-pointers, which doesn’t exactly qualify as sharpshooter, but is nonetheless better than the average outing.

Seth Apollos, who was sorely missed in the first half, hit the court during the last two quarters and finished with 12 huge points and seven rebounds. Zach Apollos scored six clutch points in the fourth quarter, getting a little more operating space due to the presence of Seth, who helped open up the inside and preventing the Bulldogs from using their double team on Zach. He scored 10 points and had seven rebounds in the game.

Despite being outsized by several inches on the frontcourt, Knightstown actually won the rebounding battle because Hauk, Hibbert and Back did a great job of keeping pressure on their taller opponents.

With five straight wins and a 10-7 record, Knightstown is in good position to enter sectional play with high confidence. The game at Hagerstown has been moved to tonight (Wednesday), and the Tigers are 5-10 on the season. The Panthers play their last home game of the season Friday night against Waldron (5-9), when seniors Kelton Lane, Brice Biehl, Anthony Hibbert and Jordan Back will play on the Knightstown court for the last time in their high school careers. All four of those seniors have played major roles in the current five-game winning streak and all appear to be showing the leadership that Howell has been seeking throughout the season.


Score By Quarters

Knightstown 14 23 37 61

Centerville 9 20 30 55


Knightstown (61)

Zach Apollos 5 0-1 10, Brice Biehl 3 6-6 15, Anthony Hibbert 1 1-2 4, Kelton Lane 6 0-0 15, Jordan Hauk 2 1-2 5, Jordan Back 0 0-0 0, Travis Titus 0 0-0 0, Drew Martin 0 0-0 0, Seth Apollos 5 2-5 12.


Centerville (55)

Mounsey 0-1 1-2 1, Brandon 1-2 0-0 3, M. Schauss 1-5 2-2 4, Noelker 0-3 0-0 0, Siegel 7-12 2-2 16, Honkomp 0-0 0-0 0, D. Schauss 6-13 2-6 15, Stewart 6-12 1-2 16.

Totals: 21-48 8-14 55.

3-pointers – K- 7-19 ( ); C 5-17 (Brandon, D. Schauss, Stewart 3). Rebounds - K 26, C 24 (D.Schauss 11, Siegle 7).

Turnovers - K 16, C 11.

Fouls - K 19, C 17.

Fouled out - Mounsey.



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