Panthers get loose against Dragons

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2000

CHESAPEAKE – If you’re playing tight, the only way to loosen up is to play tighter.

Saturday, January 08, 2000

CHESAPEAKE – If you’re playing tight, the only way to loosen up is to play tighter.

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Emotionally, the Chesapeake Panthers played very tight the first half. Defensively, they were loose.

When coach Norm Persin got that reversed the second half, the Panthers erased a 21-17 halftime deficit and turned it into a 49-37 Ohio Valley Conference win over the rival Fairland Dragons Friday night.

"It was a big game, we’re suppose to win, there was a big crowd, and our kids came out tight," Panthers coach Norm Persin said. "We told our kids all week it was just an OVC game and that’s all, but that’s not the way they saw it."

Fairland used a patient, crisp passing offense to build as much as an 11-point lead the first half before the Panthers got back in the game.

"We had to limit the number of times we ran up and down the floor," Dragons coach Joey Thacker said. "They had eight to 10 players and we had six or seven. They were physical and just wore us out. We didn’t take bad shots the second half,we were just tired and didn’t hit them."

Persin said the Panthers were playing too loose on defense as though they were afraid of getting beat off the dribble.

When the defense clamped down, it forced nine turnovers the third quarter and 14 for the half. Fairland was 9-of-16 from the field the first half, but just 6-of-17 the second half.

And once the Panthers tightened up the defense, they loosened up on the offensive end and outscored Fairland 21-10 the third quarter in taking a 38-31 lead.

"They had 13 points the second half if you take away the basket (3-point play) we gave them at the end," said Persin.

Chesapeake, 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the OVC, was led by Zeb Best with 17 points and six rebounds. Anthony Delimpo had eight points and 10 rebounds while Adam Pemberton got seven points, three assists, and six steals.

"Zeb hit the boards and played a nice game," said Persin. "Delimpo rebounded well and Pemberton was our catalyst again. No one plays better defense in the area than him."

Fairland, 3-3 and 0-1, was paced by Aaron Swanton with 12 points. Buddy Massie had six rebounds and Jay Capper grabbed five.

K. C. Jones hit a 3-pointer and Capper’s jumper put Fairland up 12-5. Pemberton had a steal and layup to make it 12-7, but Swanton’s 12-footer with 38 seconds left made it 14-7.

Jones hit two more shots to start the quarter and give Fairland its biggest lead at 18-7 with 4:45 left in the half.

Chesapeake finally scored on a 15-footer by Delimpo at the 4:12 mark and it was 18-9.

After a layup by Best made it 18-15, a 3-pointer by Swanton at the 1:10 mark extended the lead to 21-15. Best answered with a 10-footer and it was 21-17 at the break.

Chesapeake’s press the third quarter created an 11-3 run to start the half including two steals by Bobby Barbour that he converted into layups and it was 28-24.

Best, who scored 8 points in the quarter, didn’t want a repeat of last season when Fairland won three of the four meetings.

"Coach just told us to step up," Best said. "They weren’t going to get us again. Our press stepped up and that got us going."

Glen Chapman hit a layup for Fairland to start the fourth quarter, but Best countered with a layup and 12-footer.

Swanton’s foul shot cut the deficit to 42-34. Pemberton then made a layup and Andy Clark sank four foul shots over the final 1:44 to seal the win.

Despite the loss, Thacker remained upbeat.

"To play here and play the way we played means we’re capable of competing every night," said Thacker. "If we can keep winning, then when they come back to our place the game might mean something."