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 Turnover Bug Still Biting as Panthers Fall to Trojans; Knightstown Turns Ball Over 21 Times Against New Castle

January 14, 2009 -  Knightstown’s first trip in more than 12 years to the storied New Castle Fieldhouse to play the Trojans had great potential on paper. New Castle was without its starting center, freshman Adam Kranda, and the Panthers had enough inside weapons to do major damage against a team that, traditionally, dislikes losing to Knightstown perhaps more so than anyone else.

And while several New Castle players were battling a flu-like illness, Knightstown’s players were suffering from a turnover bug. The Panthers threw the ball away or committed another type of turnover 21 times in the game, resulting in the Trojans getting 12 more shots and handing Knightstown its fourth loss of the season, 53-43. New Castle coach Steve Bennett entered the game with concerns about being able to stop Knightstown’s primary offensive weapons, Zach and Seth Apollos. Over the previous two games, the duo had combined for 73 points, averaging more than 36 points between them.

But on this night, neither player was much of a factor. The Trojans used an aggressive defense and were always one step quicker to the ball. Zach Apollos scored just four points – 15 below his average – and Seth was shut down by the pressure defense utilized by the Trojans. Zach attempted just two more shots after hitting his first, a three-pointer. Seth was 0-for-4 from the field and the Apollos brothers combined for just five points on 1-for-7 shooting, or 25 points below their combined average.

While there were several occasions their teammates just simply didn’t look for the Apollos brothers, most of the time the Knightstown offensive culprit was a lazy pass that got intercepted by a quick Trojan.

The turnovers killed a Panther team that shot nearly 50 percent from the field. But New Castle did just as much damage on the offensive glass, garnering 11 offensive rebounds. Knightstown was able to counter with just one second-chance shot with its single offensive board of the night, settling for one-and-done on 15 different trips down the floor. The smaller Trojans did an outstanding job of blocking out all night long.

The biggest key to the game was Knightstown’s inability to contain sharp-shooting senior Cory Clemens, who will be playing for Division I Morehead State next season. Clemens burned the Panthers repeatedly for long three-pointers and finished the game by scoring 53 percent of the New Castle points. Clemens hit seven treys and had 28 points in the game.

The Trojans’ motion offense enabled Clemens to work his way through the Knightstown zone and used nicely-placed screens to get open for his shots. He didn’t miss often.

The Panthers played well enough to keep the game close in the first half, primarily due to the long-range shooting of senior Brice Biehl.

Just two minutes into the game a Clemens trey put the Trojans up 5-0 and New Castle fans were already in a frenzy, smelling a blowout. But Biehl answered with the first of four three-pointers in the opening half. Biehl then hit a slicing Travis Titus with a nice pass, and the sleek junior was fouled, completing a three-point play that gave Knightstown a 6-5 lead.

From that point on the first half was a see-saw battle, with 10 lead changes and three ties. The Trojans got another trey, but Anthony Hibbert answered with a pair of free throws to make it 8-8.

Clemens and Biehl then got into a shoot-out with both answered each other’s three-pointers, tying the game at 11-11. Zach Apollos, who did not start in the contest, entered the game with 3:03 left in the first quarter. He immediately went to work, swishing the nets on a baseline trey that tied the game at 14-14. The big man didn’t hit another shot the rest of the game and attempted just two.

But Clemens, who was unconscious in the first quarter, knocked down his fourth three-pointer of the period and gave the Trojans 19-14 lead. Once again, Biehl answered with his third trey of the quarter and New Castle led 19-17 after the first eight minutes.

The Panthers had an opportunity at that point to make something happen because the Trojans cooled off significantly, missing their first five shots of the second quarter. But Knightstown turned the ball over on four straight possessions.

The Panthers finally made something happen at the 4:34 mark when senior Kelton Lane drove inside for two and was fouled. His old-fashioned three-point play put Knightstown ahead 20-19 and ended a stretch of nearly four minutes without anyone scoring.

Clemens this hit his first shot of the game that wasn’t a three-pointer, but he got three points on the play anyway. He was fouled during a drive for a lay-up, and hit the free throw to put the Trojans up 22-20.

But Biehl again answered that by first stealing the ball, and then later knocking down his fourth three-pointer to give Knightstown its last lead of the game, 23-22, with 3:40 to play in the first half.

At that stage, Biehl had 12 of the Panther points. He didn’t score again, and attempted only two more shots. From that point of the game on, Knightstown got just two points – both from the foul line – out of its top three scorers in the Apollos brothers and Biehl.

The Panthers then closed out the half by going three minutes without a point. Seth Apollos hit Lane with a nice pass for a lay-up that cut the Trojan lead to 27-25 at the half.

A disastrous start in the third quarter laid the groundwork for the game’s run down the stretch. Knightstown turned the ball over on its first four possessions and the Trojans scored seven unanswered points to open up a 34-25 lead. The Panthers never could close the gap to less than seven points the rest of the way.

Lane and Hibbert scored four points apiece in the third quarter, but the Trojans opened up a 42-34 lead primarily due to six turnovers in the period by Knightstown. A four-quarter three-point play by Travis Titus cut the margin to 45-38 with six minutes left, but the Panthers would do no more real damage.

Biehl led Knightstown in scoring with 12 points, but all came in the first half when he kept the team in the game. Lane finished a hard-hat night with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and six rebounds. Hibbert was also workmanlike with nine points, and Titus scored eight points.

Zach Apollos had four points and a team-high seven rebounds. Seth Apollos had just one point and grabbed six boards.

The Panthers don’t get anything resembling a break with the upcoming scheduled. They travel to sixth-ranked Class 2A Centerville Friday night, and then play one of the top teams in Class A, Rockville, in the Shootout at Conseco Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon.

After that, the Panthers return home for difficult games against Shenandoah and Class 3A Mt. Vernon, which just beat New Castle Saturday night and will pose some of the same makeup threats the Trojans brought to the court.

The home game against the Raiders is the last time the teams will play each other as members of the White River Athletic Conference, which is being disbanded after this season.

BY THE NUMBERS

Score By Quarters

Knightstown 17 25 34 43

New Castle 19 27 42 53

Knightstown (43)

Player Fg-a Ft-a Tp Reb

Drew Martin 0-0 0-0 0 3

Anthony Hibbert 3-6 3-4 9 0

Travis Titus 2-3 4-5 8 0

Seth Apollos 0-4 1-2 1 6

Brice Biehl 4-7 0-1 12 1

Kelton Lane 4-5 1-1 9 6

Zach Apollos 1-4 1-2 4 7

Jordan Hauk 0-1 0-0 0 1

Jordan Back 0-0 0-0 0 1

Totals: 14-30 10-15 43 25

New Castle (53)

Player Fg-a Ft-a Tp Reb

Jordan Hahn 1-8 1-2 3 4

Corey Clemens 8-17 5-8 28 4

Michael Harsha 0-0 0-0 0 1

Skyler Jones 3-6 2-3 9 11

Luke Pritchett 3-6 3-4 11 2

Max Pierson 1-5 0-0 2 1

Totals: 16-42 11-17 53 29

3-pointers: NC (10-30) – Clemens 7, Pritchett 2, Hahn. K (5-13) – Biehl 4, Z. Apollos 1.

Turnovers: Knightstown 21, New Castle 7.

Team Rebounds: NC – 6; Knightstown – 1.

 

 

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