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 Panthers Play Well in Final Sectional Tune-up

February 27, 2008 - Friday night the Knightstown Panthers closed out their regular season schedule against one of the best teams they have seen all season. Despite losing the game 78-68, the Panthers more than showed they have improved a great deal during an 8-13 season slate.

The Panthers were stunned by an early onslaught by the visiting Rushville Lions, who had an all-senior front line of 6-4 Kyle Morgan, 6-5 Seth Stevens and 6-7 Devon Niehoff. That trio would dominate the game on the inside, combining for 56 points and 23 rebounds. It was their inside plays that catapulted Rushville to a 14-2 lead just over three minutes into the game. At that point the Lions had hit on seven-of-nine field goals.

What set up that early run was turnovers by the Panthers. Knightstown didn’t get off a shot in the game’s first 90 seconds, had turned the ball over three times, and the Lions led quickly 6-0.

After a bucket by Zach Apollos off a nice pass from Jordan Bearhope put the Panthers on the board, the Lions reeled off eight unanswered points. With 4:40 left in the opening quarter, Rushville led 14-2 and Panther Coach John Howell called his second time out of the stanza.

At that point it wasn’t looking good for Knightstown. That changed right away.

Zach Apollos put up four quick points from the free throw line, but Rushville’s Morgan hit a three-pointer to make it 17-6. That’s when Panthers returned the favor with their own 14-2 run during three of the most impressive minutes the team has played this season.

Despite being down by 12 points early on, Knightstown actually rallied to take the lead in the opening stanza. Brice Biehl hit Zach Apollos with a great pass inside for two, and Biehl then drew an offensive foul on a good defensive play. Kelton Lane hit inside off a great pass from Seth Apollos.

After another Lion bucket it was 19-10 before the Panthers scored 10 unanswered points. Zach Apollos dropped in a pair of free throws and seconds later scored on a nice pass from Colton Kinnaman. Lane then stole the ball and seconds later canned a long three-pointer after an outlet pass from Zach Apollos. That cut the lead to two points, but Lane wasn’t done.

He came up with another steal and hit a cutting Biehl with a great pass. The junior point guard hit the shot and was fouled, completing the three-point play that put the Panthers up 20-19. As quickly the Panthers had fallen behind by 12, they had rallied to take their only lead of the night.

It was an impressive run by a team that had appeared to be outmanned by the taller and more experienced visitors.

The Lions led 21-20 at the end of one period, and the key run occurred in the second quarter. Knightstown got two free throws from Bryce Cole and Anthony Hibbert and trailed just 25-24. Buckets by Kinnaman and Biehl kept the game close at 30-28 before Rushville went on pivotal run. The Panthers managed just two free throws over the last four-plus minutes of the second quarter, and the Lions made them pay with a 10-4 run. That gave Rushville a 40-32 halftime lead that Knightstown could never overcome.

The Panthers did keep the game close through most of the third quarter. Zach Apollos scored eight points in the third frame. Cole hit a pair of freebies that brought the Panthers to within four at 47-43. Later a bucket by Seth Apollos off a good pass from Biehl pulled Knightstown to within six at 51-45. But the Lions scored seven unanswered points to take a 13-point lead, their biggest of the game at that point.

Single free throws by Zach Apollos and Biehl were followed by Biehl hitting Apollos with a nifty pass for two more as the Panthers cut the margin to 58-49 after three quarters.

The Panthers had managed to knock down 13-of-15 free throws in the first half and then eight-of-10 in the third quarter. At that point the team was 21-of -25 from the charity stripe, and that’s what had kept them in the game.

But that free throw magic disappeared in the fourth quarter as the team hit just six-of-14 and missed seven straight during one stretch. Those missed freebies pretty much removed any chance of winning the game, although the Lions’ shooting (28-of-54) didn’t help matters any.

Knightstown was still within eight points, 66-58, with four minutes left in the game. But the Lions took advantage of three Panther missed shots and two more turnovers to put together a 12-4 run and lead 78-62, their biggest margin of the night.

Seniors Jordan Bearhope and Kyle Buckley brought the Panther crowd to its feet in the game’s final moments. Being set up for shots by their teammates, both men drilled three-pointers in their last appearance on the home court for Knightstown.

The Rushville senior big men, primarily Morgan, did the most damage to Knightstown. He finished with 31 points and eight rebounds, scoring 13 of those in the fourth quarter to squelch every Panther rally. In all, 72 of Rushville’s 78 points were scored by seniors.

Zach Apollos again led the Panthers with 22 points and nine rebounds, just missing another double-double. Biehl had an excellent floor game with 13 points and six assists. Freshman Seth Apollos scored 11 points and eight of those came in the fourth quarter.

Lane finished with seven points, Cole had five, Bearhope three, Buckley three and Kinnaman scored two.

 

 

Rushville (10-10)

Kyle Morgan 11-21 7-11 31, Seth Stevens 6-11 3-4 15, Zach Comer 4-6 1-2 10, Devon Niehoff 4-9 2-4 10, Spencer Comer 0-2 6-7 6, C.J. West 3-4 0-0 6, Anthony Harcourt 0-1 0-0 0.

Totals: 28-54 19-28 78.

 

Knightstown (8-13)

Kyle Buckley 1-2 0-0 3, Zach Apollos 7-11 7-10 22, Bryce Cole 0-3 5-6 5, Jordan Bearhope 1-2 0-0 3, Brice Biehl 3-5 7-9 13, Kelton Lane 2-5 2-2 7, Anthony Hibbert 0-2 2-6, Colton Kinnaman 1-4 0-0 2, Seth Apollos 3-6 4-6 11, Jordan Back 0-1 0-0 0.

Totals: 18-41 27-39 68.

 

3-point field goals: K - Z. Apollos, S. Apollos, Lane, Buckley, Bearhope. R – Morgan 2, Z. Comer.

Rebounds: K – 22 (Z. Apollos 9). R – 32 (West 8, Neihoff 8, Morgan 7)

Turnovers: Rushville 9, Knightstown 16.

 

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