A slow start out of the gates for the Purple Panthers would give the Auburn Trojans a boost as the Trojans would knock off Litchfield 69-51 in a non-conference boys basketball game in Simmons Gym.
The Trojans win would be their fifth in a row as they would improve to 17-6 overall, while the Purple Panthers continue to struggle in 2020 with their fourth straight loss and eighth out of the last ten.
The Trojans would start the contest with a hot hand as they would put in the first seven points. Auburn would continue on the hot streak on the offensive side of the court throughout the first quarter as they would put in 50 percent of the shots they took.
The success of the Trojans was not able to put the Purple Panthers away though. After falling behind 12-3, Litchfield would fire back with the final four points of the quarter and narrow the Trojans' lead to 12-7. Brady Bishop and Blaine Stewart would connect on the two final baskets of the quarter as Litchfield would remain in striking distance, even after the slow start.
The second quarter would begin with a version of "anything you can do I can do better" between the Trojans and the Purple Panthers. Brady Bishop would start the quarter off with a three-point basket; Auburn would answer with a three point basket of their own.
Bishop would then put in his second three pointer followed by a three-point answer by the Trojans.
The Trojans would break the exchange with a free throw as they would now hold a 19-13 lead.
The Purple Panthers would not be done from behind the arc as Blake McGill got in on the three point fun as he knocked down a trey of his own, narrowing the Trojans lead to 19-16.
McGill's three point basket would spark a Purple Panther run that would give them their first lead of the contest. Anthony Boston and Brady Bishop would combine for four points, giving Litchfield a 20-19 lead with under three minutes to play in the second quarter.
The lead would not remain in the Purple Panthers' hands for long as the Trojans would answer with six straight points, giving the lead back to Auburn at 25-20.
Both teams would add a basket before the half would end, as the Trojans and Purple Panthers would combine for 31 points in the quarter. As the dust settled in the first half, the Trojans would remain in the lead with a 28-22 lead at the half. Brady Bishop would lead the Purple Panthers, at the half, in scoring with ten points, eight coming in the second quarter.
After an entertaining first half, Litchfield and Auburn would not disappoint in the second half as both teams would continue to entertain the crowd.
Trailing by six entering the third quarter, the Purple Panthers would dig at the Trojans' lead early in the quarter. Litchfield would be able to narrow the Auburn lead to two points at 33-31, as Blake McGill, Austin Niehaus and John Corso would get the second half scoring started for Litchfield.
As quick as it was for Litchfield to narrow the Auburn lead, the Trojans would quickly build it back to double digits. Auburn would go on an 11-2 run that would give them a 42-33 lead. Austin Niehaus would connect on the Litchfield basket during the run, giving him seven points in the contest.
Litchfield again would have a response as the Trojans could not keep the Purple Panthers down. Baskets from Blaine Stewart, Brady Bishop and John Corso would narrow the Trojans' lead to 44-40 late in the third frame. In the final minutes of the quarter both teams would put in four points as Auburn would remain in the lead, 48-44.
Blaine Stewart would open the final quarter with a big three pointer, the sixth in the contest for Litchfield. The basket would put the lead a fingertip away for Litchfield as they now trailed 48-47.
The opening basket would be one of only two made field goals in the quarter for Litchfield as the gas would run out in the Litchfield tank. Litchfield's other field goal would come from John Corso's hand as he would connect on his eighth point of the contest. Corso would add two more points from the charity strip as the Purple Panthers would end with seven points in the final quarter.
As the Trojans would begin to wear down the Purple Panthers, they would keep Litchfield down this time. Auburn would pile on 21 points in the last quarter, securing a 69-51 victory.
The Trojans would be able to build a 12 point lead at 61-49 with just under five minutes to play. After Corso's free throws, made the score 61-51, the Trojans would add eight more points to their total and would not allow Litchfield to score.
The loss would drop Litchfield to 9-15 overall, while Auburn moved to 17-6 overall. Brady Bishop would lead Litchfield with 12 points as three Purple Panthers would reach double digit scoring with John Corso and Blake McGill both adding 10 points.
Litchfield will be back in conference action on Feb. 7, as they travel to Pana for a South Central Conference Panther showdown.
February 4 at Litchfield
Auburn 12 16 20 21 69
Litchfield 7 15 22 7 51
Auburn (69) - Payton Krager 18, Justin Tanner 15, Spencer Rikas 12, Luke Hunley 12, Hayden Smith 3, Barth 2. Totals: 25 11-16 69.
Litchfield (51) - Brady Bishop 12, Blake McGill 10, John Corso 10, Blaine Stewart 8, Austin Niehaus 7, Anthony Boston 4. Totals: 21 3-7 51.
Three-point field goals: Auburn 8 (Krager 3, Rikas 2, Hunley 2, Smith 1); Litchfield 6 (Bishop 2, Stewart 2, McGill 2).
Records: Auburn (17-6); Litchfield (9-15).