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Owen County repels late Panther attack

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By The Staff

The Carroll County Panthers dropped a heartbreaker to visiting Owen County Thursday despite a 16-point turnaround in the final quarter of play. Owen’s Rebels took command of the game early and looked to have the contest all but decided, leading 57-43 after three quarters of play. Carroll County fought back to claim a slim lead late in the game but fell 67-64.

Carroll made several runs at Owen during the first three quarters of play. Owen would build a lead, then Carroll would inch back into the contest. The momentum kept swinging back and forth. Every time Carroll tried to make a run Owen had an answer for it until the fourth quarter.

“We made some unforced mistakes during the game,” Panther Head Caoch Carroll Yager said. “I can think back of at least 10 possessions on offense and 10 possessions on defense where we made some mistakes, so that’s 20 possessions we can work on in practice to get better.”

The Panthers lost four players from last year’s team to graduation. Three of those young men played a lot of varsity minutes last year, the coach explained, “so we have a lot of players who are learning as we go. Our bench has come in and done real well for us. Near the end we got more confidence.”

The Panthers scored five quick points during the first minute of play during the final frame to pull within nine, 57-48, and force an Owen County time out.

“We changed defenses there near the end and that shook them up a little bit,” Yager said.

Carroll gradually pulled themselves back into the contest by forcing seven Owen County turnovers in the fourth quarter, three in the last 2:20. Owen contributed to its near-collapse by missing 10 of 15 free throw attempts in the final period. Carroll, meanwhile, was perfect at the line in six attempts over the final eight minutes of play. The Panthers took their first and only lead at 62-61 with 2:44 remaining in the game.

Owen County reclaimed the lead on a three-point field goal by Stone Osborne making the score 64-62. Jesse Proctor answered with two Carroll County free throws to even the score at 64-64 with 2:20 to go.

Neither team scored in the next four possessions. A free throw by Sawyer Williams with 11.8 seconds on the clock gave Owen County a 65-64 edge. The Panthers rebounded the missed second charity toss but the Rebels forced a turnover with 5.5 seconds left.

A quick Carroll County foul sent the Rebels to the line for a double bonus with 4.8 seconds remaining. Missing both free throws, Owen pulled down the rebound forcing Carroll to foul again with 2.7 on the clock. Again, Owen missed the free throw attempts and their big man, Jordan Shelton, pulled down the rebound and drew a foul with two-tenths of a second remaining.

Shelton swished the nets with both shots leaving as the only option for Carroll County a long desperation hurl on the inbounds play which hit the top of the backboard and sent the Rebels home with the win.

“There at the end they didn’t get the momentum back,” Yager said as the Rebels struggled to regain control of the contest. “We were able to make a couple more plays during that run that we weren’t able to previously. We just didn’t make a couple of things happen that we needed to when it got down to the end and they did.”

Owen’s Osborne did the most damage offensively against the Panthers scoring 28 points. Williams added 17 while Shelton just missed double figures with nine points on the night.

Will Yager and Ethan Stewart led the Panthers with 21 and 20 points respectively. Among Stewart’s output were four field goals from three-point range. Yager tossed in three treys.

“I thought our effort was superb,” Carroll’s coach said. “You can’t ask them to play any harder than they did. After the game I told them how proud I was of them. We’re constantly talking about the importance of every possession. I told them they need to understand that every possession—offensively and defensively—is extremely important. Some of the possessions early in the game might have an effect on the position you’re in late in the game.”