Panthers overcome Austin’s hot shooting for conference win
George Browning, Sports Writer, [email protected]
Corydon Central’s boys’ basketball team played the role of over-comers last Thursday in a 74-69 win at Austin.
The Eagles hit seven first-half threes, and the Panthers hit just five of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter but still managed to get the win.
“Usually, we are a good free-throw shooting team but we couldn’t buy one tonight,” said Corydon Central coach Joseph Hinton. “We shoot between 70 and 80%, but tonight we were 50% overall.”
Despite Austin’s hot hand in the first half, the Panthers only trailed by two, 38-36.
Corydon Central erased that deficit in the early moments of the third quarter, thanks to a two by Bryce Weber and a three from Tyler Fessel that put them on top, 41-38.
Austin answered with a basket and a free throw that tied the score and set up a series of traded possessions where both teams had slim leads.
The Eagles took a 50-49 lead with 1:25 left in the third quarter and that would be the last time they’d be in front. Corydon Central’s Jacob Eve played a huge role in that.
Eve’s basket late in the third quarter put the Panthers on top by one, and another three by Fessel stretched the margin to four, 54-50, heading into the final period.
Jagger Holton hit a deuce in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to grow Corydon Central’s lead to six.
The Eagles stayed within striking distance until Eve again made his presence felt. He got one of his six blocked shots and just moments later slashed into the paint for a two-handed slam. His plays on both ends of the floor energized the crowd and sparked a 10-0 Panthers’ run that extended the lead to 10, 66-56.
Austin ended the run with two free throws by Chance Craig, but Holton knocked down a three that made the lead 11.
Corydon Central needed most of those 11 points because of the poor free-throw shooting. The missed freebies allowed Austin to get within four points after a basket by Craig made the score 71-67 with a minute remaining. The Eagles had a chance to get even closer after a turnover, but the Panthers’ defense came up with a big stop.
Eve, who is a senior, finished with eight points to go along with his six blocks and drew the praise of his coach for the way he played.
“Jacob Eve had the best game of his entire career tonight,” Hinton said. “We wouldn’t have won without him. He played hard on the defensive end, contributed on the offensive end and he really showed his athletic ability in this game.”
Koleton Kaiser finished with a game-high 21 points, and Hinton said he saw the junior take a step forward, as well.
“Koleton scored a season high because he was taking the ball inside,” Hinton said. “He is starting to realize that if you do that, the outside shots will eventually fall. I thought he did a good job of crashing the boards.”
While Eve and Kaiser had the highest numbers, Hinton said the win, which improved Corydon Central to 9-9, was a team effort.
“It was a good win for us,” Hinton said. “They are a conference opponent, and it gets us back to .500. I am proud of all the kids, I thought everyone played well. We got done what we came here to do. It wasn’t perfect, we missed some shots, made some silly turnovers, but we found a way to get the win tonight.”
The Panthers will go on the prowl for win No. 10 on Valentine’s Day when they travel to Pekin to take on Eastern.
Corydon Central 17 19 18 20 – 74
Austin 23 15 12 19 – 69
Corydon Central (9-9, 3-4) – Koleton Kaiser 21, Jagger Holton 14, Tyler Fessel 13, Bryce Weber 13, Jacob Eve 8, Anthony Martin 5.
Austin (2-15, 1-6) – Brysen Montgomery 21, Trey Hargrave 19, Gavin Parker 9, Chance Craig 7, Preston West 5, Brenden Mosier 4, Gabe Law 2, Zach Stidham 2.
3-point goals – Corydon Central 5 (Fessel 2, Holton 1, Kaiser 1, Weber 1); Austin 9 (Montgomery 3, Parker 3, Hargrave 2, West 1).