The 2020 portion of the Litchfield basketball schedule has been a challenge for the Litchfield Purple Panthers, and it did not get any easier on Tuesday night, Feb. 11.
After finishing 2019 at 7-7, the Purple Panthers have gone through 2020 with only two wins in 12 attempts. On Tuesday, Litchfield would have a chance to overcome a defeat from the first game of the season as they welcomed the Miners from Gillespie to Simmons Gym for a South Central Conference match up.
This would be the second meeting between the two schools as Gillespie defeated Litchfield 59-46 in the season tip off at Metro-East Lutheran. On Tuesday night, the two teams would give the crowd a free quarter of basketball as Gillespie would knock off the Purple Panthers 61-56 in overtime.
It would take nearly two minutes before the first points would appear on the scoreboard. Brady Bishop would light the board when he connected on two free throws giving Litchfield a 2-0 lead. It would take another two minutes before Litchfield would add more points to their total.
With just over four minutes to play in the opening quarter, Blake McGill would rattle the rim with a three-point field goal, narrowing the Gillespie lead to 6-5. Following McGill’s basket Austin Niehaus would square the game at six points apiece when he knocked down one of two free throw attempts.
Two quick baskets by the Miners would give Gillespie a lead once again as they held a 10-6 lead with two minutes to play in the quarter. A basket by Anthony Boston and a second three-point field goal by Blake McGill would wrap up the final two minutes as Litchfield would hold an 11-10 lead after a quarter.
In the opening minutes of the second quarter, Litchfield would build their biggest lead of the contest as McGill connected on his eighth point of the contest, followed by Blaine Stewart’s first basket of the night to give Litchfield a 16-12 lead.
The Miners would respond as they put the next five points on the board to overtake Litchfield at 17-16. Again Litchfield would find a way to grab the lead as both McGill and Stewart would continue to put points on the board. The two players would combine for nine points as Litchfield would go on a 9-2 run that would give them a 25-19 lead late in the first half.
Gillespie would be able to get the last swing in before the half would expire as Litchfield would hold a 25-20 lead at the half. Blake McGill would lead Litchfield in the scoring column with 12 first half points, followed by Blaine Stewart’s eight points, which all came in the second quarter. Anthony Kravanya would lead the Miners with eight points as six Gillespie players would put points on the board in the half.
Trailing by five, the Miners would come out on fire as they would change the tide of the contest. Gillespie would outscore Litchfield 15-4 in the first half of the third quarter and would take a 35-29 lead. The Miners’ defense in that stretch would only allow two field goals as they would take part in an 11 point swing in the score.
The Litchfield squad has never been a team to give up throughout the season and Tuesday the Purple Panthers would continue to show their determination when trailing. The Purple Panthers would respond to the Miners’ opening challenge, narrowing the Miner lead before the quarter would be end.
The Purple Panthers would continue to find success at the hands of Blake McGill. After putting in 12 points in the first half, McGill would follow that performance by adding six more points to his total. Four of those 12 points would narrow the Miners lead to 35-33.
Anthony Boston would help out in the scoring column as he connected on Litchfield’s final four points of the quarter, including a late basket that would bring the score to 39-37 in favor of Gillespie after three quarters of action. The difference in the quarter would be the hot hand of the Miners from inside the arc as Gillespie would only miss two, two-point field goals as they shot over 70 percent from inside the arc.
In the final quarter of action, both teams would continue to throw blows as neither team would be able to keep the other team down. The Miners would hold the biggest lead of the quarter as they would open the quarter with a 3-0 run, creating a 42-37 lead.
Late in the quarter Brady Bishop would knock down his first basket since the first quarter, but this basket would be the biggest of the game for Bishop as he would tie the contest at 46 with a three-point basket. Austin Niehaus would follow Bishop’s basket with two points to give Litchfield a 48-46 lead late in the final frame.
This would be the Purple Panthers’ first lead since the beginning of the second half. The lead would not hold long as the Miners would put in the final basket of regulation, tying the contest at 48. The late basket by the Miners would send the contest to overtime, giving the crowd a free four minutes of basketball.
In the overtime period both teams would continue to exchange blows as neither could overcome the other team’s challenges. It would not be until late in the period that one team would pull away from the other.
Unfortunately for the home team, the Miners would finish the overtime period on a 7-2 run. The run would break open a 54-54 contest as the Miners would claim a 61-56 overtime South Central Conference victory.
The loss would drop the Purple Panthers to 9-17 overall and 1-5 in the South Central Conference as Gillespie improved to 9-18 overall and 3-3 in the South Central Conference. The Miners would finish the contest shooting 53 percent from inside the arc as 36 of the 61 Gillespie points would come from two-point range.
Blake McGill would lead the Purple Panthers in the scoring column with 18 points, followed by Austin Niehaus’ 11 points and Blaine Stewarts’ 10 points. Anthony Boston would finish two points short of a double-double as he pulled down 10 rebounds and put in eight points.
Litchfield’s seniors will compete in their final game in Simmons Gym on Friday, Feb. 14, as they host Carlinville in a South Central Conference match-up.
February 11 at Litchfield
Gillespie 10 10 19 9 13 61
Litchfield 11 14 12 11 8 56
Gillespie (61) - Anthony Kravanya 20, Blake Zenner 16, Brock Fredericks 11, Alex Ottersburg 6, Billy Gill 4, Frankie Barrett 2. Totals: 21 16-25 61.
Litchfield (56) - Blake McGill 18, Austin Niehaus 11, Blaine Stewart 10, Brady Bishop 9, Anthony Boston 8. Totals: 23 5-6 56.
Three-point field goals: Gillespie 3 (Fredericks 2, Gill 1); Litchfield 5 (McGill 2, Stewart 2, Bishop 1).
Records: Gillespie (9-18, 3-3); Litchfield (9-17, 1-5).