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Panthers Falter in Fourth Quarter;
Greenfield Closes Game with 28-8 Run, 64-44 Win
February 14, 2007 - Through the first two quarters of last Thursday’s game against Class 4A Greenfield-Central, the Knightstown Panthers had played their best basketball of the season.
But costly turnovers – 13 in the second half – enabled the Cougars to close the last 12 minutes of the game with a 28-8 run on their way to a 64-44 victory over the Panthers.
The game was a classic tale of two halves. Knightstown came out strong and matched the Cougars basket for basket through 20 minutes of action. The score was tied at 13 after one quarter, and Knightstown used nine second quarter points from freshman Zach Apollos to take a 31-29 lead at intermission. The game marked the first time the Panthers led at halftime since their lone victory of the season over Seton Catholic in December.
The Panthers were very much in this game through three quarters, despite horrendous 3-for-14 shooting in the third quarter. Knightstown still trailed just 45-39 heading into the final eight minutes, when the seams split and the Panthers hit just two of 10 from the field.
Greenfield out-scored the Panthers 35-13 in the second half, and Knightstown hit just 5-of-24 from the field, committing 13 turnovers. The game was tied at 36-all in before the Cougars finished with their 28-8 run and the Panthers were missing 15 of 18 shots.
Despite the loss, the game should have been encouraging for the young Panthers and their faithful fans. For the game’s first 20 minutes the Panthers played even basketball with the Class 4A school.
Knightstown bolted out to a 5-0 lead when freshman Zach Apollos came out of the gates more aggressive that he’s been at any point this season. The 6-4 forward started the game by swishing the nets on a trey, and then fed sophomore Kelton Lane for another bucket that staked the team to a 5-0 lead.
But Greenfield uncorked 11 straight points to pull up 11-5 before Lane answered with a three-pointer, giving him five points in the first quarter. A rebound basket by Dakota James, and a later trey from Nate Hibbert enabled the Panthers to forge a 13-all tie after one quarter.
After falling behind momentarily 19-14, Knightstown continued to aggressively attack the basket and match the Cougars in both intensity and focus. After several ties, the Panthers regained the lead when Bryce Cole hit inside put the team up 29-27 with 1:35 left in the half. Kyle Buckley scored another bucket on a great pass from Brice Biehl, and the Panthers led 31-29 at the break.
After a Biehl bucket early in the third quarter, the Panthers suddenly went cold. They missed five straight shots, enabling the Cougars to forge ahead 36-33. But Apollos grabbed a loose ball, was fouled, and hit his shot. That three-point play tied the game at 36 with 4:22 to play in the third quarter.
Greenfield went on a quick 7-0 run when the Panthers missed three more shots, and Apollos stopped the bleeding with a trey at the 1:34 mark that cut the margin to 43-39. The Cougars got another bucket, and the Panthers finished the quarter misfiring at a 3-for-14 clip.
James hit another rebound basket to keep the margin at seven, 48-41, before the Cougars were able to roll off eight unanswered points. Lane stopped that hemorrhaging with a trey at the 2:45 mark, but Greenfield would score eight straight points again to close out the game.
Three-year starter Ben Zirkle feasted off of younger Panthers the entire game. The sleek forward scored 30 points, while teammate Will Hamilton added 15 for the 7-10 Cougars. The Panthers simply didn’t have the athleticism to keep up with that duo.
Apollos had a coming out of sorts against the Cougars. Playing against more experienced front court big men, he scored a team-high 18 points, mixing in a combination of treys, jump shots and free throws.
Lane also hit double figures, playing another good game. He finished with 10 points on a couple of treys and two jumpers. Biehl scored five, James four, Hibbert three, and Buckley and Cole had two apiece.
The Panthers, 1-17 on the season, have one more home game Friday night against Waldron, and travel to Hagerstown Saturday. The team concludes the regular season schedule at Rushville.
Zirkle 30, Hamilton 15, Neuman 7, White 4, Clark 3, Galbraith 3, Beal 2.
3-pointers: Zirkle 3, Hamilton, Neuman, Galbraith
Totals: 24 10-12 64
Zach Apollos 18, Kelton Lane 10, Brice Biehl 5, Dakota James 4, Nate Hibbert 3, Kyle Buckley 2, Bryce Cole 2
3-pointers: Apollos 2, Lane 2, Biehl, Hibbert
Totals: 16 6-10 44
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