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Panthers claim district crown

ATHENS — The Chesapeake Panthers needed two things Saturday night: A strong defense and Nathan Copley.

The defense held the high octane offense of Zane Trace to 34 percent shooting while Copley finished with 29 points and eight rebounds as the Panthers beat the Pioneers 43-40 Saturday to win the Division III district championship.

While the Panthers shot just 17-of-46 from the field for the game, Copley was 10-of-19 including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.

“I just went out and played. There wasn’t anything special I was trying to do,” said Copley.

Panthers’ coach Ryan Davis was concerned about the shooting of the Pioneers’ trio of Kirk Maxwell, Gabe Haynes and Drew Davis.

“What we didn’t do was get the tempo the way we wanted, but we couldn’t get in a running game with them. Maxwell and Haynes can run and shoot and then they’ve got Davis,” said Panthers’ coach Ryan Davis.

“I thought we did a good job contesting their shots. It was a physical game on both ends and I thought we toughed it out.”

Maxwell finished with 15 points but was just 6-of-15 from the floor. Davis added 10 points.

Copley carried the Panthers in the first half with 16 of their 22 points.

He had a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Panthers took an 8-7 lead. Zane Trace came back to go up 9-8 on a layup by Maxwell to start the second quarter and had a 14-10 lead after a 3-pointer by Haynes.

But a 3-point play by Copley got the Panthers within a point and he tied the game at 18 with his third trifecta of the half with 3:48 left in the half.

A driving layup by Copley put the Panthers back on top and his runner from the lane with nine seconds on the clock made it 22-18 at the break.

Zane Trace came out gunning in the second half and ran off nine unanswered points to take a 27-22 lead at the 4:15 mark. The Panthers missed their first seven shots before Peter Hintz hit a 15-footer at the 3:30 mark and it was 27-24.

Maxwell hit a 12-foot leaner and Dallas Cochenour made a layup with six seconds left as Zane Trace went up 33-26.

The Panthers were just 2-of-12 from the field in the quarter.

“For us to have the third quarter like we did and still come out with a win was big for us,” said Davis.

In the fourth quarter, the Panthers went back to Copley. Hintz had a steal and layup and then Copley buried back-to-back 3-pointers to give Chesapeake at 34-33 lead with 5:44 left.

Copley’s 3-point play gave the Panthers their biggest lead since the first quarter at 37-33, but Davis hit a 3-pointer and it was 37-36.

Chesapeake had a chance to seal the win but made just 1-of-5 from the line down the stretch.

Zane Trace trailed 43-40 with 46 seconds left when Chesapeake suffered a turnover. Cochenour missed a shot but the Pioneers got the ball back with four seconds to play.

Davis attempted a long off-balance 3-pointer just before the buzzer that missed badly and the Panthers held on for the win.

“We made some mistakes and missed some opportunities, but at the end of the game Austin McMaster makes their chance to tie it up as hard as it can be,” said Davis.

The Panthers (19-4) will play Sugarcreek Garaway at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Ohio University in the regional semifinals.

Chesapeake 8 14 4 17 = 43

Zane Trace 7 11 15 7 = 40

CHESAPEAKE (19-4): Peter Hintz 3 0 0-0 6, Nathan Copley 5 5 4-8 29, Austin McMaster 1 0 0-0 2, Trent Saunders 1 0 0-1 2, Colin Kennedy 1 0 0-0 2, Colton Lindsey 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11-47 4-9 43. 3-point goals: 5-14. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None. Rebounds: 3 offense, 20 defense = 23 (Copley 8, Saunders 6, Kennedy 5). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 4 (Hintz 2). Steals: 6 (Hintz 2, Saunders 2). Blocked shots: 2 (Kennedy 2).

ZANE TRACE (18-5): Gabe Haynes 1 1 0-0 5, 3 0 0-0 6, Drew Davis 0 2 4-7 10, Rick Chamberlain 2 0 0-2 4, Kirk Maxwell 5 1 2-4 15, Derek Cochenour 0 0 0-0 0, Colton Whitehouse 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-44 6-13 40. 3-point goals: 4-17. Fouls: 14. Fouled out: Cochneour (:45). Rebounds: 7 offense, 28 defense = 35 (Maxwell 13, Chamberlain 10). Team rebounds: 4. Assists: 7 (Haynes 3, Cochneour 2). Steals: 2 (Davis 1, Chamberlain 1). Blocked shots: 2 (Chamberlain 2).