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Carroll County seniors Travis Ellis, Evan Mefford, John Perry and John Walls took the court for their final home basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 14. Unfortunately, the evening did not end as well as the home crowd would have hoped, as the Panthers could not generate enough offense to keep up with powerhouse South Oldham (18-8).
The Dragons hit 11 3-pointers, while the Panthers (13-12) were shutout from long range, a major factor in South’s 74-45 runaway victory.
“I think we are a better team than we showed tonight,” head coach Carroll Yager said. “Our decision making wasn’t quite as good tonight. The pace of the game was challenging for some of our players because we spent a lot of time reacting to what had already happened … We had 19 turnovers, which is more than we’ve had in a while. I’m not disappointed that South Oldham beat us because they’ve beat a lot of people and they’re a good team. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t compete better against them.”
The Panthers seemed out-of-sorts to begin the game, and Yager could be clearly heard from the other end of the floor yelling instructions to his players on where they needed to line up. “They did not play relaxed; they played nervous and that may be still not knowing how to compete against the top teams,” he said. “We spent our entire practice [yesterday] working against their 1-3-1 and we weren’t even getting people to spots where they needed to be to even start it. The spacing was too much, they were hiding behind people, not really stepping up and wanting the ball. We waited sometimes until we were trapped instead of catching it and looking and moving it. We would actually just hold it until we were in a trap, and I think that just had to do with (playing) a bit timid.”
The Dragons took advantage of this slow start to jump ahead to a 10-0 lead, forcing a Carroll timeout with 4:38 left in the first quarter. Perry ended the drought on the next play, cutting hard to the basket for a layup.
The Panthers had a difficult time getting their inside game with Dallas Gibson going in the first quarter. But the junior forward got into the game in the second, scoring eight of the team’s nine points in the second quarter.
South held a 22-point lead heading in to halftime and did not let up, outscoring Carroll 20-12 in the third quarter.
Walls finished strong for thePanthers, hitting two baskets and 4-4 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Overall, Carroll hit 15-18 free throws, a positive statistic to take away from the blowout.
“We’re not quite on par with them yet,” Yager said. “We hope to get there, but we’re not there yet.”
Overall, the head coach said he has enjoyed coaching this year’s team. He said all four seniors are “good, young men” and will be very successful in life.
“Every one of these seniors has contributed big in games during the season. Evan has had some games where we really needed his defense, and he did a really good job defensively.
“John Walls has had some big games for us. He actually won a game with a tip in.
“John Perry has had numerous games where he’s played well. He’s improved a great deal. In some games, we’ve been giving him the better player to guard some so he’s really had a good year.
“We’ve looked to Travis for shooting and scoring at times. There (has) been a couple games there where he’s come in and knocked some shots down when we needed them. So every one of them can look back at the season and say, ‘Hey, I helped our team get to where we are.’ … We’re hoping our season can extend and we have a good postseason.”
The postseason begins Monday night against Eminence at Owen County in the first round of 31st District play. The winner will take on Owen County Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The Panthers defeated the Warriors in both of their regular season meetings, 47-43 on the road Jan. 28 and 71-34 at home Feb. 6. But Yager cautioned his players that tournament play is a whole new ballgame.
“We’ve beat them twice, but when you start the district tournament, it’s a whole new season,” he said. “Everyone is back to zero and zero.”
South Oldham (74)
Cating 17, Greenwood 12, Goodlette 9, Ma. Haysley 8, Griffen 6, Pendleton 6, James 5, Mi. Haysley 4, Young 3, Moutaidior 2, Sherry 2.
Carroll County (45)
Gibson 13, Boles 10, Walls 10, Perry 6, Crowell 3, Mefford 2, Corbin 1.
South Oldham 17 19 20 18_74
Carroll County 5 9 12 19_45