The Purple Panthers' defense would not disappoint the home crowd on Tuesday night, Dec. 3, as Litchfield would defeat Mt. Olive 44-31 in Simmons Gym.
Litchfield's defense would control the Wildcats in the non-conference affair, holding Mt. Olive to only three field goals in the first half.
In the opening quarter, the Purple Panthers' defense would frustrate the Wildcats offense, disrupting their sets and forcing the Wildcats to settle for shots behind the arc. Litchfield would give up nine shots during the opening quarter and five of those would come from behind the arc.
Mt. Olive would connect on one of those three-point attempts and would grab one two point basket to give them five points in the quarter.
Litchfield's offense would thrive off the defensive success as they would put 15 points on the board. A 6-0 run to start the contest, with baskets from Blake McGill, John Corso and Blaine Stewart, would give Litchfield the opening push they needed.
After giving two field goals to Mt. Olive, Litchfield would use a 7-0 run to cap off the quarter, giving themselves a 15-5 lead after one quarter.
In the second quarter ,Litchfield would extend their lead as they would begin the quarter with a 9-0 run. Leading 24-5, Litchfield would surrender a three-point field goal, but this would be the only basket the Purple Panthers would allow in the quarter.
The Purple Panthers would end the half on a 7-0 run that would give them a 31-8 lead at the half. Blake McGill would have the hot hand for Litchfield in the first half as he would pile on 14 points, nine points coming in the second quarter.
The defense, though, would be the key to the first half for the Purple Panthers as they would only allow three field goals in the first 16 minutes.
With a commanding lead entering the second half, the Purple Panthers would look to get some rust off on the offense side of the court and control the game. Both teams though would struggle to put points on the board as they would exchange baskets with three apiece.
Litchfield would get their baskets from Austin Niehaus, John Corso and Blake McGill. McGill's basket would give him 16 points in the contest as Litchfield would hold onto a 37-16 lead through three quarters.
Chase Hires would open the final quarter with an old-fashioned three-point attempt, as he connected on a field goal and was fouled in the act.
Hires would fail to put the free throw in, but the field goal would give the sophomore his first varsity points of his career and give the Purple Panthers a 39-16 lead to start the final quarter.
Blake McGill would add two more field goals giving him a career-high 21 points. The points from McGill and Hires would give the Purple Panthers seven points in the quarter, which is all Litchfield would be able to add to their side of the scoreboard.
The Purple Panthers' lack of offense would come from the lack of controlling the basketball throughout the final minutes as Litchfield would commit several unforced turnovers.
On the other side of the court Mt. Olive would excel on a shot they failed to find success earlier in the contest. Mt. Olive would connect on five three point field goals in the final frame as Litchfield's defense would continue to force the Wildcats to settle for shots behind the arc.
The offensive outburst by the Wildcats would result in a 15-5 run, narrowing the Litchfield lead to 13 points. The first half success by the Purple Panthers would put the Wildcats in too big of a hole though, as the Wildcats would run out of time in their comeback attempt.
Litchfield would secure their second win of the season as they would walk away with a 44-31 victory. The win would move the Purple Panthers to 2-3 overall.
Blake McGill would lead all scorers with 21 points, followed by John Corso's nine points. The two teams combined for 44 turnovers in the game, 26 for Mt. Olive and 18 for Litchfield.
Litchfield will hit the road to unfamiliar territory on Friday, Dec. 6, as they square off against Mulberry Grove, in the land of Aces. Mulberry Grove entered Tuesday night with a 3-1 record after coming off a 20-8 season a year ago. The non-conference match-up in Mulberry Grove will be a good test for the Purple Panthers, who hope to improve on their 2-3 record.
December 3 at Litchfield
Litchfield (2-3) 15 16 6 7 44
Mt. Olive 5 3 8 15 31
Litchfield (44) - Blake McGill 21, John Corso 9, Austin Niehaus 6, Blaine Stewart 4, Chase Hires 2, Anthony Boston 2. Totals: 19 3-6 44.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 3 (McGill 2, Corso 1).
Records: Litchfield (2-3), Mt. Olive (2-3).