Panthers slip by Musketeers
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
Just 24 hours removed from an 89-71 victory over rival Austin, the Corydon Central Panthers traveled to Washington County for a pivotal Mid-Southern Conference meeting with host Eastern (Pekin). Despite winning nine of their last 10 games, the Musketeers came in with just two losses to their name to that point.
Despite seeing some struggles offensively in the first half, the Panthers answered the challenge in the second half by utilizing five three-pointers to push their way to a 46-42 victory.
“It just didn’t go our way in a lot of ways tonight with the ball going into the basket,” Panthers’ skipper Joseph Hinton said. “We have to play fast, and (the Musketeers) want us to play slow. I think Eastern did a really good job of making us play their type of game tonight.”
The visitors initially had a tough time getting the lid off the basket, notching just four points apiece from juniors Austin Vaughn and Anthony Martin. The Musketeers had more success, thanks to five points from Cade Jones alongside a pair of buckets from 6-foot-10 center Jacob Cherry and free throws from Kaden Temple to take an early 11-8 lead.
The Musketeers kept the assault going to start the second quarter as Jones and Cherry each racked up another five points alongside another Temple bucket. The Panthers managed to keep the deficit from getting out of control with five points from senior Bryce Weber alongside three points from senior guard Nolan Ables and a Martin free throw. Vaughn added another bucket before the Panthers retreated to the locker room down 23-19.
Whatever Hinton told his troops at halftime, it appeared to work as the Panthers shot ahead on a 16-7 run, powered by eight points from junior guard Tyler Fessel, five points from Vaughn and a Martin triple. The Musketeers’ offense was limited to a three-pointer from Caleb Jones and buckets from Cherry and Eli Guthrie, allowing the Panthers to jump ahead 35-30.
“We were looking to focus on Cherry and Cade Jones, who’s a 1,000-point scorer, fantastic from the outside and has a great pull-up game,” Hinton said. “Cherry being 6-foot-10 down low, how can we combat that? T-Mac (Thomas) Wilkinson and Austin Vaughn did a fantastic job all night with guarding Cherry and pushing him out of the paint. He got a couple outside shots, but we try to limit him as much as we can in the paint.”
The Musketeers weren’t ready to lay down their swords as Cade Jones scored 10 of the Musketeers’ 12 points in the period alongside two Cherry freebies. The Panthers kept their distance with three points from Martin followed by a pair of Weber triples. With the Panthers up 44-42, the contest was sealed after the Panthers snagged the second of two missed Musketeers’ free throws as Fessel fired a Joe Burrow-esque pass to a wide-open Vaughn underneath the opposite basket for an easy layup to lock up the 46-42 win.
Cade Jones led all scorers with 20 points followed by 13 from Cherry. The Panthers had three players notch double-figure scoring, led by Vaughn’s 13 followed by 11 apiece from Martin and Weber. With the victory, the Panthers continue to stay hot in the second half of the season, having won seven straight and 11 of their last 12.
“We let Cade Jones get free a little bit, but I thought Nolan Ables, Bryce Weber and (junior) Jalen Fowler did a great job slowing him down for most of the game,” Hinton said. “Overall defensively, I was very proud of our guys. We didn’t play our best game, we didn’t play the style of basketball we wanted to play, but we played (Eastern’s) style of basketball and ended up winning. It was a good one for us, and we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
The Panthers will finish the home portion of their schedule starting with a matchup against Christian Academy of Indiana yesterday (Tuesday), followed by hosting MSC rival and defending Class 3A state champion Silver Creek on Friday. The Panthers will then travel to Elizabeth on Tuesday, finishing the regular season with a meeting against county-rival South Central. All three contests are slated for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.