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Panthers prepare for Regional semifinals

CHESAPEAKE – The road goes a little further this week.

Wednesday, March 14, 2001

CHESAPEAKE – The road goes a little further this week. It also gets a lot tougher.

The tournament trail is another game longer for the Chesapeake Panthers as they prepare to play the Morral Ridgedale Rockets at 6:15 p.m. Thursday in the Division III regional semifinals at Ohio University.

And with the tournament trail growing a step longer, the competition picks up.

"They’re senior dominated like us. They shoot it well. Thiel is pretty good. He was the runnerup as player of year in their district," Chesapeake coach Norm Persin said. "We’ll a have to play really well. They’re the best team we’ve seen. But that’s the way it is when you get to this level."

Chesapeake comes into the game 23-1 and Ridgedale is 24-0. Both teams feature strong defenses that are expected to make for a close, low-scoring affair.

"They’ve got a heck of a 1-3-1 defense and they trap out of it," Persin said. "(Jeff) Thiel is just relentless out there. If you can beat their trap, you can beat them.

"We need to get up and down the floor against them."

Thiel leads Ridgedale with an 18.7 scoring average and 7.7 rebounds. He also leads the team with 3.2 steals.

The Rockets feature a pair of long-range shooters. Derek Diblin connected on 47.8 percent from behind the arc and Todd Hensel hits 45.5 percent from 3-point land.

Jon Price hands out 3.9 and Mike Richmond 2.2 assists per game. Price also averages 2.95 steals and Chad Mattix 2.1 steals per game.

Chesapeake is led by 6-foot-6 center Anthony Delimpo with 18.0 points and 10 rebounds per game.

The forwards at 6-4 Zeb Best, 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds, and 6-2 Josh Waugh, 12.0 points and 5.0 rebounds.

The guard will be 5-9 senior Bobby Barbour with 15.0 points a game and 3.0 steals, and Beckett Gue averages 5.0 points, 6.0 assists, and 2.0 steals a game.

"Their guards are a little bigger than ours, but their biggest kid is 6-4 so we have an advantage with Delimpo. They’re pretty physical," Persin said.

As for physical play, the Panthers were able to use backup point guard Aaron Gossett only sparingly in last week’s district finals. Gossett suffered a broken nose in the district semifinals.

Persin expects Gossett to be ready.

"I think Gossett will be able to go without the mask this week. It bothered him last week, so not needing it should help him," Persin said o a protective mask Gossett had to wear.

The winner advances to the regional finals at 3 p.m. Saturday. Thursday’s second game pits Belpre against Newcomerstown.