The Purple Panthers’ upset bid in the battle of the Panthers would come up short Friday night, Feb. 7, as the Pana Panthers defeated the Litchfield Purple Panthers 61-46 in a South Central Conference showdown in Pana.
Litchfield would give the front runner in the South Central Conference everything they could handle throughout the contest.
Pana would jump out early in the contest with a 7-2 lead in the opening minutes of the contest. Austin Niehaus would have the lone basket during the early Pana run.
With a basket from Anthony Boston and Brady Bishop the Purple Panthers would find themselves trailing by a basket, 9-7. Following Bishop’s basket John Corso would connect on his first basket of the game halfway through the first quarter, tying the contest at nine points.
Litchfield would have a few chances to overtake the lead, but would not be able to capitalize on the chances. Pana on the other hand would break the tied contest and take over a three-point lead.
Litchfield, though, would not go away as Brady Bishop connected on his second three pointer of the contest tying the contest once again, this time at 14.
As the quarter was coming to a close both Panthers would be able to add a basket to their total; Pana’s would come from behind the arc giving them a 17-16 lead after one quarter.
Throughout the first quarter the Purple Panthers would have the Pana club on their heels, but just could not find the answer to overcome Pana.
In the second quarter the home school would show why they are sitting on top of the South Central Conference. Pana would be able to add 12 points throughout the quarter and would flex their defensive muscles.
Pana would be able to hold the Purple Panthers to only two field goals throughout the quarter. The first field goal would come early from the hands of Anthony Boston and Blaine Stewart would get the second, plus a free throw to give the Purple Panthers five points in the second quarter.
The seven-point difference would give the Pana Panthers a 29-21 lead at the half. Brady Bishop would lead a balanced Litchfield scoring attack with six points in the first half. The Purple Panthers would get points from all five starters throughout the first half.
In the third frame the Purple Panthers would begin the upward climb to the lead. After struggling from behind the arc in the second quarter, the Purple Panthers would find success in the third.
After narrowing the Pana lead to five points in the early minutes of the second half, Pana would respond by building their biggest lead of the contest. Leading 35-26 Pana would look to take control of the contest.
Instead Litchfield would find their answer from behind the arc. Blaine Stewart would knock down his first three-pointer of the contest and teammate John Corso would knock down his first as well, as Litchfield would now trail 37-32.
Pana again would have an answer as they would respond with the next five points giving them a double digit lead at 42-32. Before the quarter would come to a close, Brady Bishop would add the third three-pointer of the quarter for Litchfield and his third three-pointer of the contest. Bishops’ late basket would make the score 42-35 after three quarters of action.
Litchfield would continue to battle in the opening minutes of the final quarter. Blaine Stewart and Brady Bishop would start the quarter off with two three-point baskets, narrowing the contest to 42-41. After a three-point basket by Pana, John Corso would put together an old fashioned three-point play as he connected on a field goal while being fouled. Corso would connect on the ensuing free throw to make the score 45-42.
After another scare by Litchfield, Pana would finally get a hold of the contest. Pana would put together an 11-0 run that would put them up 56-42. John Corso would put in a field goal to end the scoreless streak, but Pana would continue to put points on the board.
After three more points by Pana, Corso would add his 13th point of the contest before the final buzzer would sound.
After threatening the Pana club several times throughout the contest, the Purple Panthers would surrender in the final quarter as Pana would walk away with a 61-46 South Central Conference victory.
Pana would improve to 21-3 overall and 5-0 in the South Central Conference. Litchfield would drop to 9-16 overall and 1-4 in the South Central Conference.
John Corso would put in 13 points for Litchfield followed by Bishop’s 12 points and Stewart’s 11. Litchfield will look to end their five game losing streak on Tuesday when they welcome the Gillespie Miners
February 7 at Pana
Litchfield 16 5 14 11 46
Pana 17 12 13 19 61
Litchfield (46) - John Corso 13, Brady Bishop 12, Blaine Stewart 11, Austin Niehaus 4, Anthony Boston 4, Blake McGill 2. Totals: 17 3-5 46.
Pana (61) - Andrew Ambrose 16, Jonah Lauff 14, Drake Spracklin 12, Wes Kile 8, Bryce Edmiston 7, Beck 2. Totals: 24 3-9 61.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 7 (Bishop 4, Stewart 2, Corso 1); Pana 5 (Spracklin 3, Kile 1, Edmiston 1).
Records: Litchfield (9-16, 1-4); Pana (21-3, 5-0).