A Perfect Storm
J. C. Tilton
South has had a streaky basketball team this season. They will have a hot quarter or maybe even a hot half where they can shoot the lights out. But then just as easily they can fall into a funk where they can't find the rim. But on Monday night - the opening round of the state tournament the South Panthers went on an unbelievable streak against the East Clinton Astros.
Derek Smith drew first blood for the Panthers sinking a dagger from the three point line. The next possession Dale Spitler sank another three point shot. In 43 seconds the Panthers were up 6-0. Smith was then fouled and sunk two free throws. Then Spitler tossed in another three. In about a minute and half the Panthers were up 11-0. There were still 6 minutes left in the quarter and the Panthers would use every second.
The Astro's finally got on the board when Jay Runk hit for two. But the Panthers kept scoring - it seemed like every possession they came away with points. Dustin Bassler hit for trey and a duce, Dale Spitler connected 3 times from downtown, Tyler Loxley hit a free throw, and Derek Smith scored 15 of his 24 points in this quarter. When the dust had settled the Panthers were up 30-16 with 3 quarters left to play.
South did not cool down in the second. The downpour continued. Cory Bassler got the Panthers rolling again with a bucket then Dustin Bassler connected for a trey. 25 seconds after this shot Dale Spitler did the same. And again the Panthers had scored three times in quick succession - 8 points in 1 minute and 21 seconds. And there was still plenty of time on the clock. Dustin Bassler did most of the scoring in this quarter, leading the Panthers with 10 points. At the end of the half the Panthers were up 56 to 24 - including 9 - 3's. It was raining three's and East Clinton could not find an umbrella. A lot of teams would have been tickled to have scored 56 in a game, let alone a half! After the game the East Clinton coach admitted he tried every defensive move he could think of and nothing stopped the Panthers.
Would the Panthers cool down in the third? The first 2 and half minutes belonged to the Astro's. They reeled off 8 points and it was beginning to look like the hot hands of the Panthers had cooled off during half time. But Coach Augsperger got the team out of their stupor with a full court press. The blood got flowing again and the Panthers now went on a run of their own. They got two quick turnovers and regained momentum. They answered by scoring the next 8 points. The teams battled evenly over the last 4 minutes of the quarter. At the end of three the score stood 75-43.
In the last quarter Bryan Nuse drove home the 12th 3 pointer of the night for TVS and then it was time for the bench players to get some tournament time. Dawson would hit the 13th and last trey of the night. The East Clinton Astros would score a respectable 55 points, but the South Panthers would ring up a thundering 93 to advance to the next round.
Coach Augsperger had some post game comments, “One thing I saw was that they were playing 4 games in 7 days and high school kids are not used to playing an NBA schedule like that. I thought that they would have tired legs. And the importance of a good start was empirical. I knew that if we jump on them early we would have our best chance. Obviously we passed the ball well in the second quarter. We didn't defend well, but we played so well on offense that we just buried them. I felt for a long time that we have very good shooting team”.
Coach Augsperger was pragmatic and recalled several years ago when a TVS team won by 30 in the first round and the fell on their face in the second game. He was happy with the victory, but realized that the team had to keep their momentum. He was pleased with the play of Dustin Bassler who made a major contribution to the win.
Unofficial scoring for the Panthers: D. Bassler 23, C. Bassler 7, D. Spitler 16, C. Bryant 2, T. Loxley 7, W. Bassler 8, A. Dawson 3, B. Nuse 3, D. Smith 24.