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Panthers pass first big test

Chesapeake Panthers’ center Colin Kennedy protects the ball down low as he moves past a Africentric defender. The Panthers beat the Nubians 66-57 Wednesday. (The Ironton Tribune / Tony Shotsky of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

After two lopsided wins, Chesapeake coach Ryan Davis was anxious to see how his team would withstand its first big test of the season.

How about an A-minus?

Well, Davis grades a little harder but either way the Panthers passed the test with a 66-57 win over the previously unbeaten Columbus Africentric Nubians in the third annual Ironton Classic.

“We knew this was going to be a good test,” said Davis. “We were excellent with our effort, but we were less than excellent with our intelligence a times. We saw a lot of positive and we saw a lot of negative, but we know where we’re at now.”

Behind the scoring of the big three the Panthers are now at 3-0. Austin McMaster scored 24 points and had 10 rebounds. Nathan Copley scored 23 to go with five rebounds, four assists and three steals while Colin Kennedy had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Marquice Taylor led the Nubians with 25 points and eight rebounds. Kaloma Figueroa-Jackson had 18 points.

The Panthers bell behind 14-6 early only to get back-to-back layups from McMaster and Patrick Hintz to trail 17-14 at the end of the quarter.

The defense forced seven turnovers in the second quarter while Copley scored eight points and Brandon Noble got four more off the bench as Chesapeake took a 28-24 hafltime lead.

“They were fast and athletic, but we always want to see if we can guard. Once we adjusted to the speed of the game we guarded pretty well,” said Davis.

A 3-pointer by McMaster and layup by Copley opened up a 41-26 lead with 4:05 left in the third quarter.

The Nubians (4-1) got layups by Taylor and Justin Miller to close out the quarter and it was 45-36.

A triple by Noah Andrews cut the Panthers’ lead to just 45-39 at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Panthers got a 3-point play from Copley at the 4:25 mark to make it 53-46.

McMaster had his own 3-point play with 2:51 left for a 58-50 lead. Africentric got within 60-55, but McMaster scored six straight points as the Panthers sealed the win.

The Panthers host Ironton on Tuesday, then go to Wheelersburg next Thursday before facing South Point, Parkersburg (W.Va.) South and Fairland.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” said Davis.

Africentric 17 7 12 21 = 57

Chesapeake 14 14 17 21 = 66

AFRICENTRIC (4-1): Darrion Bell 0 0 0-0 0, Marquice Taylor 11 0 3-7 25, Kaloma Figueroa-Jackson 4 2 0-1 18, Fuquan Tucker 1 0 2-2 4, Hossi Smith 2 0 0-0 4, Antonio Thomas 1 0 1-5 3, Noah Andrews 0 1 0-0 3, Justin Miller 2 0 0-0 4, Trevan Saunders 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-60 6-15 57. Fouls: 17. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 3-15. Rebounds: 13 offense, 15 defense = 28 (Taylor 8, Thomas 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 2. Assists: 4. Steals: 14 (Taylor 7). Turnovers: 15.

CHESAPEAKE (3-0): Nathan Copley 9 0 5-6 23, Patrick Hintz 1 0 0-0 2, Javon Thompson 0 0 0-0 0, Austin McMaster 9 1 3-3 24, Colin Kennedy 4 0 5-5 13, Brandon Noble 2 0 0-0 4, Eric Kennedy 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 26-55 13-14 66. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None. 3-point goals: 1-8. Rebounds: 14 offense, 23 defense = 37 (Kennedy 10, McMaster 10, Copley 5). Team/deadball rebounds: 7. Assists: 7 (Copley 4, Thompson 3). Steals: 10 (Copley 3, McMaster 3). Turnovers: 24.