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The Panthers picked up a victory, but fell in two close match-ups, taking fourth place in the PRTC Holiday Classic in Jackson County.
Head coach Carroll Yager said he thought the players grew together as a team and was proud that they were competitive in each of the games.
Carroll County opened pool play Tuesday with a match-up against host Jackson County. The Panthers held a 21-14 lead after the first quarter but played terrible in the second, scoring only three points, Yager said. He said his team got away from their strengths in the second quarter and took too many bad shots and committed too many turnovers.
The Panthers clawed their way back late in the game, but it was not enough to overcome their earlier miscues. They lost 54-51.
In the first two contests, there was a Player of the Game award given out. Senior Ethan Stewart won the honor in the first match-up, scoring 23 points. “He played really exceptionally well both on offense and defense.”
In the second game, Carroll faced Owsley County. The Panthers led most of the way and had a 41-20 lead at the half. Yager said he was able to get more game experience for his bench players in this game, with each getting to play at least a quarter. The Panthers won 72-47, and sophomore Brandon Stewart won the Player of the Game award coming off the bench. He led the team with 14 points. “I think that was a big boost for him,” Yager said.
Carroll County played their final game of the tournament against Rockcastle County. Missed free throws and turnovers plagued the Panthers, but they stayed with the Rockets most of the way.
The Rockets jumped out to a 16-7 lead in the first quarter and were up 32-23 at the half. However, the Panthers outscored their competitors in the second half in what Yager called one of their best halves they have played all season. Carroll had a two-point lead with about two minutes to go. Unfortunately, they turned the ball over at least three times, giving Rockcastle the opportunity to steal the win. Sophomore Dallas Gibson posted a double-double for the Panthers with 12 points and 16 rebounds.
“Our turnovers continue to be something we are struggling with,” Yager said. The Panthers turned the ball over 18 and 21 times in their two losses. As a result, ball handling and passing will remain an emphasis in practice. On a positive note, the Panthers outrebounded each of their opponents: 27-23 against Jackson County; 40-30 against Owsley County; and 41-26 against Rockcastle County.
“We’re trying to put together 32 minutes of good, sound basketball,” Yager said. “We’re playing better in spots, and the younger guys are coming along. We’re trying to get better each game.”