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Davis says Panthers should be proud of their accomplishments

COLUMBUS — There was no joy in Mudville when Mighty Casey struck out, but don’t expect Chesapeake Panthers’ head coach Ryan Davis to shed any tears.

Now don’t get Davis wrong. He was dejected after the Panthers 59-48 loss Thursday to Lima Central Catholic in the Division III state semifinals. Davis has been a competitor all his life and he takes losing as hard as anyone, but he knows what a real loss is.

This wasn’t one.

“When you lose your last game it’s difficult. But this is something you dream about. We need to lose the sadness and feel a sense of pride. The five guys (seniors) we’re losing did something that has never been done at Chesapeake,” said Davis.

Big time games is nothing new for Davis who won a National Christian College Athletic Association championship at Kentucky Christian and was named the national Player of the Year as a senior.

But coaching in the state tournament was new to him. It was an even newer experience for the Chesapeake players.

“These kids have never even been to watch a state tournament. We never had a kid on this team who’s ever been to the Schottenstein Center,” said Davis.

Thursday’s loss ended the Panthers’ season with an impressive 21-5 record and including an Ohio Valley Conference championship as well as sectional, district and regional titles.

Davis said the team should be proud of their accomplishment as the first team in the school’s 88-year history to reach the state tournament but not to be satisfied.

“We hope to get a chance to come back. Maybe we’ll be more successful the next time back,” said Davis.

“You learn a lot through this game. But if you work your butts off you get to see the fruits of your work.”

The Panthers huddle around their coach in front of the team bench after the game, then made the long walk back to their locker room. As they passed in front the Chesapeake fans who remained, there were some much-deserved applause and cheers.

“This isn’t the end of the world. We need to be proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said Davis.

There is some joy in Chesapeake. The Mighty Panthers have played well.

—— Sinatra ——

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.