Panthers slam Eagles in home opener
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
Neither the Lanesville Eagles nor the Corydon Central Panthers started their 2021-22 season on the best note as both dropped their season openers last Tuesday. The Panthers fell on the road to Seymour 64-52, while the Eagles lost their home opener to Evansville Christian 77-43.
The two county rivals met up Saturday in Cory-
don for the Panthers’ home opener with both teams hoping to notch their first win on the young campaign. For the Panthers, this was expected to be a tough assignment as they came into the contest without two of last year’s top scorers: juniors Tyler Fessel and Anthony Martin, who were out due to injuries.
For Eagles’ head coach Mikel Miller, who starts his first season since becoming Lanesville’s all-time wins leader, his squad appeared to not have fully recover ed from their Thanksgiving meal as the short-handed Panthers ran away with a 59-41 victory.
“I had a feeling that (Cory-
don Central) would use a zone defense and a little bit of pressure based on what they did (against Seymour) and what we struggled with (against Evansville Christian),” Miller said. “Early on, we were looking for a lot of ball and body movement, but I don’t think we did a very good job at that.”
The Panthers wasted little time to jump ahead as they began the assault with a bucket from junior center Austin Vaughn, followed by consecutive three-pointers from senior guard Owen Shireman. Vaughn and senior guard Bryce Weber added to the Panthers’ early assault by going a combined 4 for 6 from the free-throw line.
“(Lanesville) was in a zone defense, and they just left me open. They weren’t really guarding me, so I took the open shot,” Shireman said. “We were ready to go from the get-go because we remember how they beat us last year.”
The Eagles quickly found themselves unable to keep up, both in terms of offense and a number of early turnovers. The only offense of the period came off a bucket and freebie from junior center Kameron Walter and a layup from junior guard Maddex Miller, cutting the early Panthers’ edge to 12-5 at the end of the quarter.
Matters hardly got any better for the Eagles offensively in the second quarter as they mustered only six points on a bucket from Walter, a three-pointer from junior Jack Crosby and a free throw from senior center John Morgan. The Panthers doubled their rivals’ offensive output in the period with five points from Shireman, a triple from Vaughn and buckets from junior Hunter Schmitt and freshman Thomas Wilkinson before waltzing into the locker room with an emphatic 24-11 half-time edge.
“We got a lot of shots, especially in the paint in the first half; we just didn’t hit enough,” Miller said. “At times outside, we made some shots more difficult than they needed to be.”
“We were trying to make it an up-and-down game, wanting to push (Lanesville) up and down the floor and see if they could hang with us,” Panthers’ skipper Joseph Hinton said.
The intermission did little to quell the Panthers’ offensive onslaught to begin the second half as Weber knocked down a pair of triples alongside a three from Wilkinson. The 6-foot-4 freshman and Vaughn each added a field goal, while Weber and freshman Trey Wiley combined to go 3 for 4 at the foul line. The Eagles could only counter with a triple from Dawson Teeter, a pair of Miller baskets and a Crosby freebie, helping to cut the Eagles’ deficit to 40-19 at quarter’s end.
“I thought we were able to penetrate the gaps and get the ball to the open man; we need to look for that a bit more,” Hinton said. “We need to get the ball inside to Vaughn more. I was proud of how we moved the ball for the most part.”
The Eagles finally found their rhythm in the final period as Crosby and Teeter both notched five points from the field during the quarter, alongside buckets from Miller and Walter. Crosby and Walter also combined for a perfect 5 for 5 at the charity stripe.
“Defensively, I thought for three quarters of the game we played extremely good defense and kept (Lanesville) from getting the ball in the basket,” Hinton said. “We kind of lost focus a little bit and gave up some easy baskets towards the end, got a little complacent, and we can’t do that.”
It was all for naught as the Panthers also had their highest scoring period in the final minutes as Weber knocked down another pair of triples while Shireman recorded his fourth long-ball of the evening. The pair also combined to go 4 for 6 from the free-throw line while Wiley, Schmitt and Vaughn all got in one last bucket.
Despite one last scoring effort on a three-point play by freshman guard Braydon Hodges, it only cut the Eagles’ deficit to a final of 59-41, handing the Panthers their first victory of the young campaign while the visitors dropped to 0-2. This marks the first time the Eagles have lost their first two games since the 2014-15 campaign, when they started the season 0-3.
In the absences of Fessel and Martin, Shireman and Weber shined for the Panthers with 17 and 15 points, respectively, while knocking down a team-high four three-pointers apiece. Vaughn rounded out the Panthers’ trio of double-digit scorers with 12 points.
“(Fessel and Martin) are still not cleared by the doctor but they should be good to go shortly, and they’ll be ready to play for us this coming weekend or so,” Hinton said. “Once we figure out how to gel them together with the guys I’ve been playing, I think we will be a pretty deep ball club.”
Crosby ended up leading the Eagles offensively with 12 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter. Walter followed with nine points, while both Miller and Teeter chipped in with eight apiece.
“I felt like early on we were up there with (Cory-
don Central), pressuring them,” Maddex Miller said. “We were playing well, but we couldn’t stop them from hitting those threes. Once they got used to what we were doing, we just let them shoot threes and they made them.”
The Eagles will face one of their biggest tests Friday night when they host arch-rival Borden to open Southern Athletic Conference play.
Another rivalry matchup will take place Friday night as the Panthers travel to Ramsey to confront North Harrison to begin Mid-Southern Conference play in a hardwood edition of the Big Cat Classic. Tipoff for both rivalry games is set for 7:30 p.m.
Lanesville 5 6 8 22 – 41
Corydon Central 12 12 16 19 – 59
Lanesville (0-2) – Crosby 12, Walter 9, Miller 8, Teeter 8, Hodges 3, Morgan 1.
Corydon Central (1-1) – Shireman 17, Weber 15, Vaughn 12, Wilkinson 7, Schmitt 4, Wiley 4.
3-point goals – Lanesville 4 (Crosby 2, Teeter 2); Corydon Central 10 (Shireman 4, Weber 4, Vaughn 1, Wilkinson 1).