If you like to see offense during a basketball game then Friday's South Central Conference match-up between Southwestern and Litchfield was not the contest for you. If you are a defense fan, then hopefully you did not miss the Purple Panthers 31-26 victory in Simmons Gym on Dec. 13.
Litchfield's defense has been the cornerstone of the Purple Panthers' success in the early part of the season and has been a force throughout their three game winning streak.
In the last three games, leading into Fridays contest, the Purple Panthers had only allowed 110 points, an average of just 37 points a game. In the South Central Conference opener, the Purple Panthers would stick with what has been a positive this season. Litchfield would score 16 points off of 22 turnovers created and would not allow any second chance shots.
In the opening quarter, the Purple Panthers would get on the board first with a three-point basket by Blake McGill. Litchfield would not be able to add another basket until the end of the quarter when Blaine Stewart connected on two free throws.
In between the five points scored by the Purple Panthers, the Piasa Birds would connect on two field goals and a free throw giving them a 6-5 lead after one quarter.
The second quarter would bring more offensive woes haunting the Purple Panthers. The defensive effort by Litchfield would show but the offense would struggle to capitalize early. Again Blake McGill would open a quarter with a basket, giving Lithcfield their first lead since McGill's first basket in the opening quarter.
Leading 7-6 the Purple Panthers would not be able to find another point until just over two minutes to play in the half. Austin Niehaus would put in a field goal ending a Piasa Bird 6-0 run that gave Southwestern a 12-7 lead. Niehaus' basket would move the score to 12-9 before Southwestern would increase the lead back to five with a quick basket.
In the final two minutes the Purple Panthers would outscore the Piasa Birds 5-2 with a basket from John Corso and a last second three-point field goal by Blaine Stewart. Stewart's last basket would drop the Southwestern lead to 16-14 as both teams entered the locker room at the half. At the half the Purple Panthers would be lead by Blake McGill and Blaine Stewart with five points each.
Even though the Purple Panthers' defense has been a force, Litchfield's offense has struggled as the Purple Panthers would look to combine the efforts on both side of the court. Anthony Boston would begin the half with an old fashioned three-point play as he connected on a free throw after being fouled on a successful field goal attempt. The play by Boston would give Litchfield a 17-16 lead that would not stay for long as Southwestern would counter with a field goal of their own.
Litchfield would once again regain the lead as Corso and Boston both connected on a free throw, giving Litchfield a 19-18 lead late in the third frame. In the final minutes of the quarter both teams would put points on the board as Southwestern would outscore Litchfield 3-2, squaring the contest at 21 after three quarters.
The Purple Panthers would give their best effort on both sides of the court in the final quarter of action. The Purple Panthers would quickly break the tie with an opening field goal by Blake McGill. McGill's basket would spark a 9-3 run that would give Litchfield a 30-24 lead late in the contest. McGill would score six of the nine points during the Purple Panthers run.
Southwestern would put in a late basket before John Corso put the finishing touches on the contest with a free throw. Litchfield's defense would once again hold their opponent under 40 points for the third time in four attempts as Litchfield would claim a 31-24 victory.
Blake McGill would lead all scorers with 11 points as the Purple Panthers extended their win streak to four games.
The win would move the Purple Panthers to 5-3 overall and 1-0 in the South Central Conference.
December 13 at Litchfield
Southwestern 6 10 5 5 26
Litchfield 5 9 7 10 31
Southwestern (26) - Kyler Seyfried 9, Brady Salzman 8, Addis Moore 5, Gavin Day 4. Totals: 11 2-4 26.
Litchfield (31) - Blake McGill 11, Blaine Stewart 7, John Corso 6, Anthony Boston 4, Austin Niehaus 3. Totals: 9 11-20 31.
Three-point field goals: Southwestern 2 (Salzman 1, Moore 1); Litchfield 2 (Stewart 1, McGill 1).
Records: Litchfield (5-3, 1-0); Southwestern (2-5, 0-1).