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Panthers disappointed with tourney finish, Stewart injured

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By Kristin Beck

The Carroll County boys basketball team finished 1-2 in the National Guard Holiday Classic in LaRue County Dec. 27-29, a disappointing finish after high expectations coming in. But the Panthers may have a bigger problem to worry about.

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Starting point guard senior Brandon Stewart fractured his wrist during the tournament opener against Crittenden County and will be out at least three weeks, but likely could be longer. Head coach Carroll Yager said the original estimate was 3-8 weeks, and Stewart is now sporting a cast.

Stewart was driving hard to the basket for a layup early in the third quarter when a Crittenden defender came across his body with a hard, but clean, foul, Yager said. The head coach said Stewart lost his feet and put his hand out to catch himself.

Yager said the senior was coming off “probably the best game of his life,” referring to Stewart’s 29-point performance against Newport High School in the Swauger Holiday Classic Dec. 22. “He’s, of course, very disappointed, and the team is disappointed for him,” he said.

The Panthers won the game against Crittenden, 54-49. Seniors Trey Boles and Dallas Gibson led the team with double-doubles, Boles with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Gibson with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Austin Crowell scored nine points and dished out two assists, while fellow junior Dakota Corbin scored eight points and had five rebounds and five blocks. Senior Jay Damron scored two points and had three assists, while senior Patrick Booth also scored two points. Stewart finished the game with  four assists.

Next, the Panthers took on tournament-host LaRue County, who would eventually win the tournament. Yager said his team played really well and were in it up to the very end.

Carroll took the lead, 51-50, with 12 seconds to go after Gibson scored near the basket. The Panthers played good defense, keeping the Hawks on the perimeter. Senior guard Kelton Ford lunged forward into a Carroll defender and drew a foul, giving him three shots from the line. He hit 2-3 with 3.6 seconds left.

Ford stole the ball off the inbounds, was fouled and hit both free throws, making the final score 54-51.

“He’s probably the best player we’ve played against,” Yager said of Ford, who led his team with 30 points.

Overall, however, Yager said he thought his team played really good defense. The Panthers held the Hawks without a field goal in the fourth quarter; however, they hit 18-30 free throws in the quarter.

With the injury to Stewart, Crowell moved to point guard and sixth man Jacob Wise moved into the starting lineup. Yager said Wise did a good job in his first game as a starter.

Gibson led the team with 15 points and was just short of a double-double, grabbing nine rebounds. Boles scored 12 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists. Crowell also had three assists and scored nine points. However, forward Corbin led the team in assists with five. He also grabbed seven rebounds and scored four points. Wise scored seven points and Damron scored four points.

In the third game, Carroll took on the DeSales Colts. The Panthers did not get off to a good start, missing shots and turning the ball over. The Colts were ahead 22-6 after the first quarter, 51-25 at the half. The Colts ultimately won the game, 81-60.

Gibson led the team with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Boles also hit double-figures with 16 points. Corbin, Crowell, John Michael Adams and Isaiah Hogan all scored four points, while Taylor Hill scored three points, Booth scored two points and Wise scored one point.

Yager said his team had a hard time running their offense, and the loss of Stewart was more pronounced against DeSales than it had been against LaRue. “We’re asking players to change the roles they’ve had,” he said. He said he will try a couple different people in the starting lineup and also at the point guard spot.

“We’re going to do everything we can to move forward.”

Honored

Gibson was named to the All-Tournament team, and Boles was named the Player of the Game against Crittenden County.