Litchfield wrapped up action in the annual Rick McGraw Memorial Invitational Friday, Jan. 24, as they battled the Mt. Zion Braves for the ninth place spot. Throughout the contest the Purple Panthers would not be able to get in rhythm as the Braves would walk away with ninth place with a 57-27 victory.
Litchfield would get on the board first in the contest when Brady Bishop opened the scoring with a three-point field goal. Bishop's basket would be the last basket for Litchfield until late in the opening quarter.
Blaine Stewart would get that second basket for the Purple Panthers with a three point field goal of his own. The two baskets by Bishop and Stewart would be the only two the Purple Panthers could buy in the first quarter.
Sandwiched in between the two Litchfield baskets, Mt. Zion would connect on four baskets of their own to give them an 8-6 lead. The Braves would be able to put in one free throw before time expired giving them a 9-6 lead after one quarter.
After shooting 25 percent in the opening quarter, the Purple Panthers would look to improve on their offensive possessions in the second quarter. Throughout the quarter both teams would exchange blows as neither team would be able to gain an inch.
It would not be until late in the quarter that one team would begin to break away from the other. After a late basket by Anthony Boston would narrow the Mt. Zion lead to 16-13, the Braves would put in the final four points of the half. The late push by Mt. Zion would give them the largest lead of the contest at 20-13.
The seven point lead by the Braves would hold as both teams entered the locker room at the half. Brady Bishop would lead the Purple Panthers in scoring in the first half with five points.
As the Purple Panthers would struggle throughout the first half, they would find themselves still in the ball game, trailing by seven as they entered the second half.
Mt. Zion would quickly increase that deficit in the opening minutes of the third frame. The Braves would increase their lead to double digits as they would outscore the Purple Panthers 5-2 to start the quarter. Blake McGill would get the field goal for the Purple Panthers.
Litchfield would respond to the opening challenge throughout the quarter as they would bring the deficit back down to single digits with baskets from Anthony Boston and Austin Niehaus.
After four quick points from Niehaus, Litchfield would find themselves trailing 28-21. That is as close to the lead as Litchfield would get though. The Braves would end the quarter on a six point run that would give them a 34-21 lead after three quarters.
The run that Mt. Zion put together to close out the third quarter would continue in the fourth as Mt Zion would knock down the first eight points of the quarter. The 14-0 run that spanned two quarters would give Mt. Zion a 42-21 lead.
The Braves would continue to pile on points in the final quarter as Litchfield would only be able to knock down two field goals in the quarter. Litchfield would get two baskets both from the hands of Blaine Stewart from behind the arc. The struggles from the field by Litchfield would help Mt. Zion claim a 57-27 victory.
The loss would finish the tournament for the Purple Panthers as they would walk away from the tournament with a 1-3 record. Austin Niehaus would lead the Purple Panthers in scoring with seven points as Litchfield would drop to 9-12 overall.
Litchfield will continue action on their home floor on Tuesday, Jan. 28, when they welcome the Roxana Shells in a South Central Conference contest.
January 24 at Litchfield
Rick McGraw Memorial Invitational
Litchfield 6 7 8 6 27
Mt. Zion 9 11 16 21 57
Litchfield (27) - Austin Niehaus 7, Blaine Stewart 6, Blake McGill 5, Brady Bishop 5, Anthony Boston 4. Totals: 9 5-7 27.
Mt. Zion (57) - Nash Mose 14, Drew London 10, Ethan Hamrick 9, Dylan Roberts 7, Matthias Adams 6, Sean High 4, John Baumann 3, Eric Jia 2, Nathan Bauerle 1, Mekhi Adams 1. Totals: 23 8-16 57.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 4 (Stewart 2, Bishop 1, McGill 1); Mt. Zion 3 (Baumann 1, Roberts 1, Hamrick 1).
Records: Litchfield (9-12); Mt. Zion (5-17).
Litchfield would use a big third quarter on Thursday night, Jan. 23, to propel them into the ninth place game of the annual Rick McGraw Invitational Tournament. Leading by three points at the half, the Purple Panthers would outscore the Ramsey Rams 17-6 in the third quarter to give them a 49-36 victory.
After losing both games in their pool, Litchfield would look to get back to their winning ways in bracket play at the Rick McGraw Invitational Tournament.
The win would not come easy for the Purple Panthers in the early quarters. Ramsey would jump out ahead early in the contest with a 6-2 lead. After a basket by Brady Bishop to narrow the lead to two points, the Rams would answer with a three-point basket to give them a 9-4 lead.
Litchfield would have an answer as they would respond with a 9-0 run that began with a field goal by Blaine Stewart. The run would allow the Purple Panthers to build a 13-9 lead late in the first quarter.
The Rams though would not go away as they would connect on the final four points of the quarter, squaring the contest at 13 after eight minutes of action.
Again the Purple Panthers would be slow to get in motion at the beginning of a quarter. The Rams would use the early minutes to build another lead as they would outscore the Purple Panthers 6-2. The early run would break open a tied contest, giving the Rams a 19-15 lead.
The Purple Panthers would be able to narrow the lead to 19-18 with baskets from Blake McGill and John Corso. The Rams would not allow the push by the Purple Panthers to slow their production in the quarter as they would once again have an answer. Ramsey would add two more baskets pushing their lead to six points, 24-18.
Basketball is a game of peaks and valleys and again the Purple Panthers would arrive at a peak after pulling themselves out of a valley. Trailing by six, Litchfield would use the final minutes of the first half to build a 27-24 lead with a 9-0 run. Austin Niehaus would have a big part in the run as he connected on four points.
The late push by Litchfield would give them the three point lead at the half. Blake McGill and Brady Bishop would lead the Purple Panthers in scoring with seven points apiece.
After finishing the first half with success, Litchfield would carry what was working for them over to the second half. Litchfield would use the opening minutes of the third frame to build a double digit lead at 38-26.
The 11-2 run would be sparked by Austin Niehaus' opening basket and would have support from Blake McGill's three three-pointers.
Litchfield would use the remaining minutes of the third frame to build on their lead. Brady Bishop would add a three-point basket and Austin Niehaus would add three more points on an old fashioned three-point play as Litchfield would hold a 44-30 lead after three quarters of action.
In the final frame, the Purple Panthers would use the majority of the quarter slowly increasing their lead. Litchfield would get baskets from Brady Bishop and Austin Niehaus in the quarter as the Purple Panthers would add five points to their total in the final quarter.
Ramsey would be able to add six points, but the lead by Litchfield would be too big for the Rams to overcome. Litchfield's effort in the third quarter would secure a spot in the ninth place game on Friday as the Purple Panthers knocked off the Rams 49-36.
Blake McGill would lead all scorers with 16 points in the contest as three Purple Panthers would score in double digits. Brady Bishop would add 14 points and Austin Niehaus would put in 10 points.
The win would move the Purple Panthers to 9-11 overall and a spot in the ninth place game against Mt. Zion.
January 23 at Litchfield
Rick McGraw Memorial Invite
Litchfield 13 14 17 5 49
Ramsey 13 11 6 6 36
Litchfield (49) - Blake McGill 16, Brady Bishop 14, Austin Niehaus 10, Blaine Stewart 4, John Corso 3, Anthony Boston 2. Totals: 19 5-9 49.
Ramsey (36) - Charlie Reiss 14, Kendall Adermann 13, Andy Dunn 3, Drew Carroll 2, Hadley Seaton 2, Koster Cook 1, Blain Marx 1. Totals: 15 2-8 36.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 6 (McGill 4, Bishop 2); Ramsey 4 (Adermann 3, Dunn 1).
Records: Litchfield (9-11); Ramsey (7-9).