Panthers outrun Vikings
J. C. Tilton
The TVS Panthers opened slowly, raced thru the second and third quarters and slowed down again in the last quarter. But when they were hot, they out performed the Miami East Vikings in the first round game of the State Tournament. TVS used full court pressure out of the gate. The defense did generate some turnovers over the course of the game, but was more effective at dictating the pace of the game. This seemed to keep Miami East playing at a speed that they were not accustomed to. The Vikings likewise opened with full court pressure, using a trapping full court defense. Then they pulled back to a half court defense in the second and third quarters and resumed pressure in the 4th.
As mentioned TVS started slow on offense. They were down 7-0 in the first two minutes. South finally got on the board and started to find the basket on offense. They did not make up much ground, as they were down by 6 at the close of the quarter. Miami East seemed to do a good job of finding scoring opportunities inside, which they did for most of the night. After the break, the Panthers intensity turned up a notch. Limiting Miami East to one basket and one free throw, they went on a 16-3 run in the first 4 minutes or so of the quarter. Dustin Bassler punctuated this run by scoring on 2 free throws, a shot from the floor, and then finally dropping a shot from behind the arc. This prompted the Miami East coach to call a time out to get things back under control at the 3:53 mark of the 2nd quarter. Miami East regained some ground after this timeout, but South still went to the locker room with the lead, up 39-31.
After halftime the Vikings came out in a 2-3 zone, the Panthers stuck with their game plan - applying full court pressure on defense. On offense, Dustin Bassler still had the hot hand. He came out with 2 treys on back to back possesions. The Vikings answered with a trey of their own, but South still held the advantage at the end of quarter with a comfortable 13 point lead. Miami East tried to shake things up a little in the last quarter, starting with a man to man defense. It was in this quarter that Caleb Betzner took one for the team. The Panthers were applying full court pressure and Betzner established a defensive position close to mid court. A Miami East player was running, looking behind him and started to turn around, but was too late and ran almost full tilt into a stationary Betzner. It was a floor rattling thump, but Betzner landed on the only part of his body that could take the punishment - his head. We can jest about it now, but the whole crowd held their breath when it happened, and were amazed when he popped up - ready to play some offense after taking the charge. In an effort to change momentum the Vikings now went to a full court defense and a half court match up zone.
Towards the end of the game the Panthers began to slow things down. And it seemed like the Panthers had two speeds - on or off, they started to sputter a bit in response to the slow down and Miami East began to gnaw away at the Panther lead. With 1:37 left the 13 point lead had shrunk to just 3. South had cooled off and were even having problems with free throws. In several games this season, the team had problems finishing and missed some critical 4th quarter baskets - would this last quarter bug come back to bite them? Spitler was sent to line 3-4 times in the last minute and did make some shots when he had to - scoring the last 3 points to give the Panthers a 4 point lead with 13 seconds left. Meaning that the Vikings needed two scores to have a chance. The Vikings muffed the ball on their final possesion and the Panthers won 70-66.
Coach Augsperger had some comments on the pace of the game, " Miami East's Starting 5 is very scary, but Miami East has no bench, they wanted to run, and we let them. Our depth and our conditioning played a huge part. " This was a game where the hard work spent getting into shape this season paid off. When asked about Basslers team leading 21 points he responded, " Dustin Bassler is a really good player. We've been waiting for him to play with confidence". Another individual who stepped it up this game was senior Caleb Betzner - "Betzner was a man on the boards - 11 offensive boards. We had more offensive boards in this game than in 8 to 10 games". When asked to look ahead to the game against Trail the coach replied, "This was our worst defensive game in a long long time, but we played well enough offensely. Trail will pound us if we don't come to play both offense and defense. We can't get away with playing one or the other, we have to do both. Trails is scary because they are so physical. We have to play the best game we've played so far". Comments to: email: Chris Tilton