Riding a two game win streak, Litchfield would extend the streak to three games on Tuesday night, Dec. 10, against the Bunker Hill Minutemen. In a 46-45 hard fought contest in Simmons Gym, Litchfield would survive a late push from Bunker Hill, claiming their fourth win of the season.
The Minutemen would be unfriendly guest in the opening minutes of the contest as they would connect on the first two field goals. After a pair of three-point field goals from Blake McGill and Blaine Stewart, the Purple Panthers would have their first lead of the night at 6-4.
Again, the Minutemen would take over the lead and this time would extend it to 11-6 with just over a minute to play.
Blaine Stewart would put an end to the Minutemen run with his second three-pointer of the quarter, narrowing the Bunker Hill lead. Stewart's basket would be the last of the opening quarter as Bunker Hill would hold an 11-9 lead.
The Purple Panthers would hold the Minutemen off the scoreboard for the first four and a half minutes of the second quarter. In that span Litchfield would add eight points and regain the lead at 17-11.
Austin Niehaus would help the Purple Panthers as he collected four of the eight points during the second quarter run. Bunker Hill would not go away though as they would return the favor with a run of their own. The Minutemen would put up seven straight points, taking over the lead at 18-17 with just over two minutes to play in the half.
Austin Niehaus would continue a solid second quarter as he would connect on his third field goal with just under two minutes left. Niehaus' basket would give the contest its fifth lead change as the Purple Panthers would now hold a 19-18.
After the Minutemen put in their 20th point of the half, Niehaus would add his seventh point of the quarter, knocking down one of two free throws attempted. The late free throw for the Purple Panthers would send both teams to locker room with 20 points apiece.
With two three point field goals in the first quarter and two free throws in the second quarter Blaine Stewart would lead all scorers in the first half with eightpoints. Niehaus' second quarter efforts would follow Stewart's eight points, with seven points.
With a roller coaster of a half in the rear view mirror, both teams would come out of the locker room looking to improve on their first half play.
The Purple Panthers would have the upper hand in the opening minutes of the second half. Litchfield would be the first to take over the lead in the third frame with a 5-2 advantage starting the quarter. The opening push by the Purple Panthers would put them ahead 25-22.
Both teams would exchange baskets before Bunker Hill would be able to take over the lead once again. With the eighth lead change of the contest the Minutemen would hold a 31-29 lead with over a minute to play in the quarter.
Austin Niehaus would quickly respond to the challenge presented by the Minutemen. Niehaus would add four points to his third quarter total, giving him six points in the quarter and Litchfield a 33-31 lead with under a minute to play in the third frame.
Bunker Hill would add a basket before the Purple Panthers would end the third quarter with a basket by Blaine Stewart, giving Litchfield a 35-33 lead after three quarters of action.
During their win streak the Purple Panthers have had some problems holding onto the basketball as they turned the ball over 38 times in their last two wins. Tuesday night the turnover struggle would continue as Litchfield would commit 12 more turnovers. The biggest turnover came late in the contest giving the Minutemen a chance to take over the lead for the final time.
Leading up to the excitement in the last minute the Purple Panthers would build a 46-39 lead. The Minutemen would respond with six big points to narrow the Litchfield lead to one point with just over a minute to play in regulation.
Leading 46-45, the Purple Panthers would look to run out the clock but the Minutemen defense would defeat Litchfield's plans, as they would regain possession.
On the turnover the Minutemen would have a chance to overcome the Litchfield lead from a few feet away, but would not be able to capitalize on the attempt.
Bunker Hill would not let the failed attempt bother them as they would gain three more attempts in the final ten seconds, with the last chance coming with 1.7 seconds to play.
Bunker Hill would not be able to capitalize on any of the attempts as Litchfield would survive the scare and walk away with a 46-45 victory.
The win would be the 4th of the year for Litchfield as they would move their record to 4-3 overall.
Austin Niehaus and Blaine Stewart would score over half the Purple Panthers' points as they would combine for 26, with both players connecting on 13 points apiece. John Corso would also add seven points, all coming in the fourth quarter.
The Purple Panthers will look to continue their win streak on Friday evening when they open their South Central Conference schedule in Simmons Gym against Southwestern.
December 10 at Litchfield
Bunker Hill 11 9 13 12 45
Litchfield 9 11 15 11 46
Bunker Hill (45) - Devon Ralston 16, Andrew Scroggins 14, Coy Sellars 7, Corey Hall 7, Cole Kiffmeyer 1. Totals: 19 3-5 45.
Litchfield (46) - Blaine Stewart 13, Austin Niehaus 13, Blake McGill 7, John Corso 7, Anthony Boston 6. Totals: 19 5-14 46.
Three-point field goals: Bunker Hill 4 (Scroggins 2, Sellars 1, Hall 1); Litchfield 3 (Stewart 2, McGill 1).
Records: Litchfield (4-3); Bunker Hill (0-3).
The Litchfield Purple Panthers ventured into unfamiliar territory on Friday evening, Dec. 6, when they traveled to Mulberry Grove to battle the Aces in a non-conference tilt. The Purple Panthers would not be good guests as they would claim their third win of the season with a 47-34 victory.
The Aces, who were coming off a 20-win season, entered the contest with a 4-1 record and would struggle throughout the contest breaking through the Purple Panthers' defense.
Litchfield would only allow eight points in the first quarter, due to not allowing good looks at the basket and only allowing one shot a possession. The Purple Panthers' defense would be strong inside the three-point arc, not allowing a two-point field goal until under a minute in the first quarter.
Prior to that the Purple Panthers would give up a three-point field goal and three free throws, as the Aces would take eight three point attempts before hitting their first basket of the night.
On the offensive side of the court, the Purple Panthers would struggle to capitalize on the defensive effort. Litchfield would grab ten points in the quarter as John Corso and Anthony Boston chipped in four points apiece. The lack of offense by the Purple Panthers in the opening quarter would allow the Aces to stay in reach of the lead as Litchfield would control a 10-8 lead after one quarter.
In the second frame both teams would exchange blows throughout the eight minutes of action. John Corso would add to his total early as he connected on a field goal and two free throws. Corso's points would sandwich a three-point basket from the Aces as Litchfield would control a 14-11 lead with just under four minutes to play in the half.
After only getting one two-point attempt in the first quarter, the Aces would be able to find a way to take nine two-point attempts in the second. The success in finding the open shots would allow the Aces to take over the lead late in the quarter.
The Aces would go on a 7-3 run that would put them ahead of the Purple Panthers 18-17 with just over two minutes to play in the quarter.
Blake McGill would put an end to the Aces' run when he connected on a three-point basket with 1:45 to play in the quarter to give Litchfield a 20-18 lead. The lead would not remain as Mulberry Grove would put in a basket before the buzzer ended the half. The basket would square the contest at 20 at the half. John Corso would lead the Purple Panthers in the scoring column in the first half with eight points, four coming in each quarter.
Litchfield would take advantage of the opening minutes of the third quarter as they would break open a tie ball game with a 6-0 run in the first two minutes. The run would give Litchfield a 26-20 lead.
The Aces, on their homecoming contest, would not go away as they would answer with four quick points. Blaine Stewart would respond to the Aces' challenge as he would add five points to his total, with the second basket making the score 31-26 with over a minute to play in the quarter.
Mulberry Grove again would hit a big basket as they connected on their fourth three-pointer in the contest off of 19 attempts. The three-point basket by the Aces would narrow the Purple Panthers' lead to 31-29 with a minute to play in the quarter.
Cameron Crow would come up clutch again for the Purple Panthers as he connected on a layup from the right side before the quarter would expire, giving Litchfield a 33-29 lead after three quarters.
In the final frame, the Purple Panthers began clicking on both sides of the court. Throughout the contest Litchfield would show positive signs on the offensive side and on the defensive side of the court. In the fourth quarter those two would connect and the Purple Panthers showed their true talent as they would outscore the Aces 14-5 in the final frame.
With just over four minutes to play in the contest the Aces would connect on their fifth three pointer, making the score 37-34. That basket would be significant because it would be the last basket of the contest for Mulberry Grove.
Litchfield would control the Aces for the remaining minutes, not allowing them to score. Litchfield's offense would capitalize this time as they would add 10 points and put the contest out of reach.
During the 10-0 run the Purple Panthers would get scoring from Blaine Stewart, John Corso, Blake McGill and a clutch three-point basket from Austin Niehaus that started the run.
The late run would secure a 47-34 victory for the Purple Panthers as they move to .500 on the season with a 3-3 record.
Blaine Stewart, who scored three points in the first half, would lead all scorers with 14 points and John Corso would follow with 13 points. Corso would also pull down ten rebounds to give him his first double-double of the season. Austin Niehaus would also have success in the rebound category as he would pull down 11 rebounds as Litchfield would grab 38 rebounds in the contest.
The Purple Panthers' defense would be the story of the game once again only allowing 46 shots in the entire contest. Of the 46 shots 25 would have to come from behind the arc due to the Purple Panthers' defensive effort in the paint.
Litchfield will open their South Central Conference schedule at home on Friday the 13th against the Southwestern Piasa Birds.
Dec. 6 at Mulberry Grove
Litchfield 10 10 13 14 47
Mulberry Grove 8 12 9 5 34
Litchfield (47) - Blaine Stewart 14, John Corso 11, Austin Niehaus 9, Blake McGill 7, Anthony Boston 4, Cameron Crow 2. Totals: 17 9-16 47.
Mulberry Grove (34) - Kaleb Scoggin 11, Wyatt Criner 10, Brannt Peterson 6, Jackson Isringhausen 4, Marcus Redou 3. Totals: 13 3-4 34.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 4 (Stewart 2, McGill 1, Niehaus 1); Mulberry Grove 5 (Scoggins 2, Peterson 2, Redou 1).
Records: Litchfield (3-3); Mulberry Grove (4-2)