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Panthers’ unselfish play sparks team past Braves

Panthers’ unselfish play sparks team past Braves
Panthers’ unselfish play sparks team past Braves
Things look bad for Corydon Central's Kyle Savely (3), however the sophomore guard was able to pull around the attempted block by Brownstown's Jordan Deck and put the ball up for a field goal in Friday night's home victory by the Panthers. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

There wasn’t much of a crowd on hand Friday night for Corydon Central’s second home boys basketball game of the season. That’s too bad. Those that shunned the matchup against Brownstown missed an impressive display of unselfishness and good shooting by the Panthers that may help lay to rest fears of a worse-than-average season for the Old Gold and Black. The hosts quelled a late-game rally to pull it out, 73-65.
The win was Corydon’s 11th-straight Mid-Southern Conference victory in a row. The last conference loss by the Panthers came in overtime against Michael Frazier-led Charlestown, 63-60, on Feb. 1, 2000.
The Panthers will go for win No. 12 this Friday night in Ramsey when it squares off against North Harrison for a huge county-rival clash. Tip-off for the JV game is 6 p.m. with the varsity tussle at about 7:30.
In all, five players hit double-digits in scoring for Corydon Central (2-0, 1-0 M.S.C.), led by Josh Pruett’s 19 points. Zach Engleman and Kyle Savely both marked 13 points, Craig Keinsley had 12 and Quentin Combs tossed in 11 for the Panthers, which graduated 80 percent of its scoring from a 17-7 semistate-qualifying team.
One of the bench-marks of last year’s group was the ability to get everyone involved in the offense. As proven on Friday, that already seems to be the way this clan is going. Another quality of last year’s team was that it rarely let big leads slip away. That’s one area that the 2002 Panthers need to improve, said Corydon Coach Randy Gianfagna.
“We didn’t extend our lead and that upsets me a little bit. We got up on (Brownstown) by 10, 11, 12, 13 points and only had an eight-point lead at the half. We got the lead to 16 or 17 in the second half and didn’t finish them off, either,” Gianfagna said. “We took a couple of threes that we didn’t need to take and rushed some things. Overall I was pleased, but there’s still a lot of little things that we have to work on.”
The two teams swapped leads early on in the first quarter with Brownstown (0-1, 0-1 M.S.C.) going ahead, 8-7, with 3:32 showing on a basket by 6-3 sophomore Marty Young. From there the Panthers’ offense got on track with a 9-0 run.
Combs knocked home a basket that was followed by a Pruett old-fashioned three. Savely found Pruett on the wing for a three-pointer and Engleman hit Nevin Dunaway underneath.
Keith Mellencamp scored in the paint for Brownstown before Pruett found Engleman open for a jumper to give Corydon a 19-10 lead at the first stop.
Young, who will undoubtedly be a force in the M.S.C. for two more years, brought his team back with a personal 7-2 run, which included his own old-fashioned three. Young continued to be the only player to score for the Braves until the 4:48 mark when Jordan Deck got in the action with a basket from downtown to put the score at 27-24 in favor of Corydon.
The Panthers weren’t ready to give up the lead, however, as the squad went on another 11-0 steak that was highlighted by a Keinsley three, 38-24.
Brownstown scored the final six points of the half on buckets by Young, Brandon Allman and Brandon Martin to cut Corydon’s lead back to 38-30.
Young had 17 points in the first half. Gianfagna said his club needed to focus on Brownstown’s youngster in the second half.
“(Young) was roaming the baseline against our 1-3-1 and I had to tell the guys not to worry so much about 50 (Mellencamp) but to worry about Young. Defensively I thought we did a lot better job in not letting him get easy baskets down low,” Gianfagna said.
The hosts were able to swell their lead to 59-43 by the end of the third quarter. With the large advantage, the Panthers seemed to become extremely complacent with 6:00 left in the ball game and up, 63-46.
Quietly and methodically, the Braves chiseled into the lead. Deck scored a basket, Cory Reynolds hit a free throw, Young had another old-fashioned three and Clint Parker swooshed a triple. Pruett had a basket that was chased by a deuce by Allman to make the score 68-62 with 1:18 showing.
Just as quick as Brownstown rallied, Keinsley put Corydon back on top with two nice baskets underneath and Pruett connected on a charity toss, 73-62.
A trey by Lambring with 10 ticks left was the final gasp for Brownstown, setting the final score at 73-65.
Young tallied 26 points on the night with Allman adding nine.
Corydon hit 27 of 48 field goal attempts while Brownstown nailed 28 of 56 tries. The two clubs were virtually identical in rebounding and turnovers (CCHS 31 reb., 10 T.O.; BCHS 28 reb., 13 T.O.). While Corydon didn’t shoot well from the line, what it did hit was enough to push the team to the win: the Panthers hit 15 of 28 attempts from the stripe and the Braves were 5 of 9.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned about this team in the two wins is how young it is. It’s a good shooting team, but they still make a lot of small mistakes that just come from inexperience,” Gianfagna said. “They have to develop that killer instinct to finish out games, too. Plus, we have to start hitting our free throws. We really helped Brownstown out by not converting at the free throw line.”