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Tigers Claw Overtop Panthers
J. C. Tilton

The Tri-County North Panthers played 3 fairly decent quarters of basketball against the West Liberty Salem Tigers. But one quarter was all it took for the Tigers to claw their way past the Panthers in the opening round of the state tournament.

In the opening quarter the teams sparred and took measure of one another. The Tigers opened a small lead, but a Tyler Dunham basket pulled the Panthers to within a point about midway thru the quarter. At that point the score stood at 7-6. The Tigers went on a small run to finish the quarter up 11-6. The Panthers were down, but were still in striking distance. One thing obvious from the outset, the referee's were letting the teams play and the game was very physical from the get go. The Panthers had problems adjusting to this style of play and seemed to be intimidated at times.

But in the second quarter the scoring drought for the Panthers continued. And the Tigers seemed to be able to score at will. The team would go on to score the next 21 points. North would not score for 9 minutes until Dan Baumgarder finally sunk a shot close to the 2 minute mark. Ethan Blankenship chipped in a free throw. And that would be the only scoring of the quarter for the Panthers. When the horn sounded, North was down 32-9.

In the third quarter, the Panthers played better, but couldn't make up any ground. The scoring was fairly even, but they were still looking at a significant deficit going into the last quarter. The Panthers actually outscored the Tigers in the last quarter, but it was too big hole to climb out of - the team fell 60-41. That dismal 2nd quarter had sunk the Panthers chances. Blankenship did have a good second half - scoring 10 of his team high 14 points. The Tigers did a good job of scouting and their determined defense held Heltsley to just 6 points for the night. Tyler Dunham stepped up his game - scoring 11. Baumgarder had 8 and Oldham 3.

Coach Waggoner was asked about the game and the 2nd quarter, “They are a good offensive basketball team. We knew that they are great defenders and are going to have their hands all over you. They have a deep bench and are going to throw fresh players at you. At the end of the first quarter we were down 11-6 and I felt that they had a couple of nice offensive players. I knew that they would score 50-55 points no matter what we did defensively. We did a fair job on their better players, but I felt that they out hustled us in the 2nd quarter. The game was very physical which is not to our liking. We didn't do a good job of playing thru that. We had 6 or 7 looks where we couldn't get a shot to drop. And if we just hit a few of those it keeps you in the game”.

Looking back over the season, coach saw how the team had problems against other physical teams namely Shawnee and Covington. Unfortunately that is the way the game is going and TCN will have to be more physical for next year. The team will return all but one player, Mark Smith who will graduate. The coach applauded the efforts of Smith who hadn't played varsity basketball until this season. Comments:

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