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Greyhounds Outrun Panthers
J. C. Tilton

It was the home opener for Dixie this past Saturday as they hosted the Tri County North Panthers. North is missing their all league post man, Mitch Heltsley, due to injury and the team has struggled here in the early season. Without Heltsley they don't have much height in the front court. On the other hand Dixie has a senior laden team and has some size in the post. It was the right recipe for Dixie's new varsity coach, Joe Miller.

The first quarter was low scoring as Dixie gained an early lead, but North came back to tie it at 8 all. Dixie opened with a man defense as did North, both would switch to zones later in the game. Fouls were a problem for Dixie early. At the end of the first quarter, Dixie had already accumulated 7 fouls, while North only had 2. Ben Spahr had 2 fouls in the first quarter and had to spend a good bit of the first half on the bench. Fellow senior Andrew Thacker, who hadn't played basketball in three years, was tapped to fill in at the post. He did a commendable job on defense and hit the boards on both ends of the court. Dixie's defense played well thru out the game and captured several turnovers thru out the game.

Dixie generated some elbow room in the second quarter with a 17-5 run. The two teams sparred early in the quarter and it was knotted at 13. North briefly went to a press in an attempt to surprise Dixie. But Dixie turned tables and began a press of their own. The faster pace of the game played into Dixie's hands as the up tempo pace was more to their liking. Dixie was on a run and North could not keep up. North had 3 turnovers in the last minute and a half of the quarter that prevented them from making up any ground. Dixie had been playing a baseline offense against North's man to man defense, but when North switched to a zone to stop the damage, Dixie went to a 2 guard offense and still managed to pick apart the half court Panther defense.

At one point Dixie had a 33 point lead. The determined North team did not let up and chipped away in the final quarter. Still it was too much ground to make up and North finally fell 64-44. The normally reserved Coach Miller was smiles after the game, “I thought we almost came out with too much intensity in the first quarter. Once we calmed down a little bit, we began to play pretty well. North played very hard, but with Mitch [Heltsley] not in there they are not the same team. I did like our overall intensity tonight, I liked the assists, the team passed the ball well, we are concentrating on passing the ball inside this year.” I asked the coach about the start of the second half, where Dixie put together a nice run to put the game out of reach, “We know the third quarter is very important. We decided to come out and get it over with very quick.”

In looking at the unofficial post game stats I saw some positives for Dixie. 12 assists and the scoring was balanced. There were 4 players with 9 or more points. I did not have totals on steals for each team, but I know that Dixie had the lead in this department. Dan Baumbarger of TCN lead all scorers with 17 points - a positive for North.

Coach Wagoner of TCN had some post game comments, “Before the game we talked, and a 10 to 8 point first quarter is what we want. We can't score 65 points, we need to keep the score low. At the end of the first quarter I thought we had some opportunities and we could have been up - there were some good looks that we didn't make. We didn't want the game to be a full court game because we knew we couldn't keep up. But we had some turnovers, some missed looks, and the game got away. When you are struggling offensively you can't give the other team layups and easy shots. We've got to keep the game at the pace we want it. When it was at 13 all, we had the game where we planned it. But our margin for error is zero, we made some mistakes, some turnovers, and allowed Dixie to run away with it. Even at halftime we were down by 12 and we had 7 or 8 good shots that we should have made. By making a few shots, we could have been even.”

Scoring: Dixie - Poynter 2, Denny 5, Crowe 2, Moore 9, McBain 9, Adams 10, Bertke 2, Risner 4, Kummer 11, Spahr 6, Thacker 4. North - Baumbarger 17, Putnam 2, Oldham 1, Blankenship 5, Robinson 2, Summers 2, Bierly 7, Biser 4.

The reserve game was also won by Dixie 48-26. Scoring: North - Oldham 4, Smith 1, Treadway 5, Robinson 11, Burnside 2, Jummern 3. Dixie - Bates 13, Sinnamon 6, Miles 6, Miller 5, Prater 2, Bentley 6, Risner 10. Comments

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