Panthers Pounce Too Late
J. C. Tilton
The Panthers took their 2-0 playoff record into the sectional finals against the Clinton-Massie Falcons. The Falcons proved to be a quick, athletic team that gave TVS all that they could handle and more. The Falcons game plan was to shut down Spitler and Bassler and they were effective. In the first half the seniors carried the load. Marker and Smith did their best to keep the team in the game but a 5 point deficit grew into a 14 point deficit by half time. The Panther offense was lacking, and despite two defensive changes in the first half they could not slow down the Falcons on offense. On defense the Panthers used a match up zone and then a box and one.
After halftime, the Panthers applied full court pressure. But the offense still could not get on track - scoring only 10 points in the third period. The Panthers had problems hitting from both the foul line and the floor, while turnovers continued to be problem in the last half of the quarter. This lackluster third quarter allowed the Falcons to extend their lead to a whopping 18 points. With their backs against the wall and facing elimination, someone needed to step it up. Sixth man, Tyler Loxley opened the 4th quarter scoring with a Panther trey and went on to score 10 4th quarter points to spearhead a comeback attempt. The spark by Loxley became a small flame as Dustin Bassler drained two three pointers. After the game Coach Augsperger remarked that "He gave us a lot of energy and hit some shots when we needed them." The Panthers began the quarter down 15 and slowly they chipped away at the Falcon lead. The Panthers would score 21 points in the quarter - many of those points scored in a flurry in the last 5 minutes of the game. Betzner and Spitler both made some points down the stretch. But the Panthers waited too late to pounce upon their opponent. The clock ran out before they could make up enough ground. The Falcons were held to just 11 points in the quarter, but held off the Panther charge to win 54-46.
After the game a disappointed Coach Augsperger gave his final interview of the the season. "The Clinton Massie players they played like it meant more to them early. We can't spot a good team 18 points and then play like there is no tomorrow until it staring you in the face. We had a great, couragous effort in the 4th quarter, but we should have started sooner. Massies kids did a good job against us defensively. We didn't rebound well. We didn't play with enough desire. We didn't hit our shots on offense. That is a receipe for disaster."
To a degree I wonder if the Monday Night syndrome from the NFL had a similiar effect on the Panthers. Often times an NFL team will be pumped up for a Monday night game and fight to victory, only to fall flat the next Sunday. There is a peak, then valley of emotion, and some times you get over confidence from that win. South was pumped up from the win on Monday and but didn't get that same intensity back until it was too late against the Falcons. The Panthers had a winning season and a 2-1 play off record, something a lot of teams cannot claim. The Panthers will graduate three seniors that provided great leadership and support this season and as has been the case over the recent past, the Panthers will reload, not rebuild for next year Commets to email: Chris Tilton.