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Dragons burn Panthers in Senior Night game

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By Dave Taylor

Puff the magic Dragon roared into the Panthers’ lair at Carroll County High School Wednesday treating the home team’s Senior Night crowd to a display of dreadfully-good fundamental basketball. The Panthers, though wounded and scarred in defense of their home turf, battled fiercely to the end but the great beast from South Oldham County carried home a 71-48 conquest.

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“They do everything right,” Panther Head Coach Carroll Yager said of the Dragons. “They’re number one or number two in the (Eighth) region. They’ve got all the parts: they handle the ball well, they shoot well, they’ve got size, they’ve got athleticism. They are a very, very good team!”

The Dragon shooters breathed fire from beyond the three-point arc, scorching the nets with five treys en route to a 23-8 advantage at the first quarter break.

“They hurt us in many, many ways with all those different weapons that they’ve got,” Yager said. “They’ve got three or four just really, really good shooters. They play good fundamental basketball!”

During the first two minutes of the second period the Panthers reeled off nine straight points to scissor South Oldham’s advantage to just six, at 23-17.

During that run, however, the gymnasium scoreboard malfunctioned and refused to add points to the home team’s total. While the Panthers, with claws extended, were slashing heavily at the Dragon flanks, fans in the Panther lair were screaming for the scorekeeper to “put our points on the board!” Play was stopped, the clock was turned off and restarted several times but still refused to cooperate. The time would still count down, but the score remained stuck at 23-8.

Eventually, game officials elected to resume play using only the time clock portion of the scoreboard, instructing each team to keep abreast of the score through the keepers of their respective score books. No sooner did play resume than the scoreboard began to function properly.

“At that point right there, I’m thinking (the lull) might help us and slow their momentum down,” Yager said, “but at that time we had the momentum.”

Momentum can be a fickle friend as Carroll County quickly learned. Over the next six minutes the pendulum swung back in the direction of the Dragons. The Panthers found themselves licking the wounds of a 40-19 thrashing at halftime.

“When I scouted them that was one thing I noted,” Yager said. “They are capable of some big, big runs.”

South Oldham continued to connect on shot after shot from behind the three-point arc, powering to a 57-27 advantage after three quarters of play. South Oldham connected for 12 treys on the night which accounted for more than half their scoring output. Carroll County rallied somewhat in the fourth quarter to chop the lead to the final 23-point margin.

Carroll County’s five seniors started the game, each saw extensive playing time during the contest and all put points on the scoreboard (when it cooperated). Saying goodbye to this group of seniors was more difficult than previous teams for Coach Yager, as his son Will is among the Class of 2010, along with D.C. Craig, Ryan Miles, Jesse Proctor and Andy Sisenstein.

“I had a lot of different emotions when I was coming to this game tonight,” Coach Yager said. “Because (Will) is my son I have had a lot of other experiences with those other seniors when they were little boys, too. I coached them in little league. Every one of those seniors are really, really good students. They’re involved in a lot of different activities at school outside of basketball. They’ve had great attitudes. They’re just really, really good young men and I’m really proud of them. I know there are some good things ahead of them in life. I just really have enjoyed coaching them.”

The Dragons held Panther leading scorer Will Yager to two points in the first half, but Yager came on to score 11 points in the final period en route to a 15-point game. Earlier in the day the Carroll senior had been named North Central Kentucky Conference Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 1-7. It was the second such honor for Yager this season. Among Yager’s classmates, Sisenstein tallied six points, Proctor five, Miles four and Craig three against South Oldham.

It was junior Ethan Stewart that kept Carroll County in the game during the first half, scoring seven of his nine points in the second quarter.

Only six free throws were attempted during the game with Carroll County hitting three of four attempts, and South Oldham one of two. The Dragons were whistled for only six personals, the Panthers only five during the game.

Carroll County closed the regular season with a 50-32 loss at Walton Verona on Saturday. The Panthers face Gallatin County in the opening contest of the 31st District Tournament tonight (Feb. 24) at 6 p.m. in Warsaw.