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Panthers pass first true test

Chesapeake center Colin Kennedy pulls down a rebound Saturday against the Piketon Red Streaks in the Division III district finals at Ohio University. The Panthers won 68-52 to earn a berth in next week’s regional semifinals against Sugarcreek Garaway.

ATHENS — After two straight lopsided tournament wins, it was time to get serious.

The second-ranked Chesapeake Panthers faced the sixth-ranked Piketon Red Streaks in the Division III district finals Saturday at Ohio University.

Chesapeake passed its first tournament test with a 68-52 win over the Red Streaks to earn a berth in next week’s regional semifinals against Sugarcreek Garaway.

“It was good for us to get a test,” said Panthers’ coach Ryan Davis. “We knew we had to play really well. We knew they could score and we knew their press was good. It was a good effort against a good opponent.”

Chesapeake did a good job answering Piketon runs throughout the game. The Panthers also dominated the boards 46-31 and had four players in double figures. However, they had an uncharacteristic 12 turnovers for the game.

The game was tied 8-8 midway through the first quarter when the Panthers surged to a 19-10 lead. Evan Legg hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer and it was 19-13

Piketon (20-3) closed the gap to 26-22 on a baseline shot by Legg with 4:33 left in the half

But as quickly as the Red Streaks got close, the Panthers pulled away.

Eric Kennedy had a layup to start the run and the Panthers closed the half with seven unanswered points and it was 40-28 at the break.

Two free throws each by Keenan Bush and Jamie Helton and an 18-footer by Helton to start the second half got Piketon within 40-34.

Chesapeake came right back on a layup by Austin McMaster to stop the run and layups by Colin Kennedy and Patrick Hintz opened up a 46-36 lead.

The Red Streaks trailed 48-39 at the end of the quarter on a foul shot by Bush.

Ah, but those Panthers know how to answer a challenge. McMaster and Hintz both converted 3-point plays to begin the fourth quarter and a foul shot by Eric Kennedy extended the lead to 55-39 with 4:59 left.

Eric Kennedy hit a trifecta and McMaster had a layup as the lead ballooned to 62-43 with three minutes left and the outcome was virtually decided.

Although Davis was pleased for the most part, he said the Panthers need to play better in the future.

“I wasn’t pleased with our defensive effort all night. We played back on our heels. Hopefully, we’ll have more defensive intensity and confidence.”

Hintz, McMaster and Eric Kennedy scored 14 points each while Colin Kennedy had 13 points and nine rebounds. McMaster grabbed 11 rebounds and Nathan Copley had nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Legg scored 22 points and Helton 12 for the Red Streaks.

Piketon 13 15 11 13 = 52

Chesapeake 19 21 8 20 = 68

PIKETON (20-3): Jared Vulgamore 1 0 0-0 2, Jamie Helton 1 2 4-4 12, Evan Legg 8 2 0-0 22, Graign Moore 2 0 1-2 5, Keenan Brush 2 0 3-5 7, Zack Farmer 1 0 0-0 2, Jacob Braniff 1 0 0-0 2, Matt Lewis 0 0 0-0 0, Issac Brabson 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-55 8-11 52. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: Braniff (4th 1:28). Three-point goals: 4-16. Rebounds: 10 offense, 21 defense = 31 (Brush 8, Moore 5, Vulgamore 5). Team rebounds: 6. Assists: 4 (Legg 2). Steals: 5 (Helton 2, Moore 2). Turnovers: 12.

CHESAPEAKE (22-1): Nathan Copley 1 1 4-4 9, Patrick Hintz 5 1 1-1 14, Javon Thompson 1 0 0-0 2, Austin McMaster 5 1 1-1 14, Colin Kennedy 3 2 2-4 14, Eric Kennedy 3 2 2-4 14, Brandon Noble 1 0 0-0 2. Totals: 27-67 9-13 68. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None. Three-point goals: 5-17. Rebounds: 21 offense, 25 defense = 46 (McMaster 11, Kennedy 9, Copley 8). Team Rebounds: 6. Assists: 11 (Copley 8, Thompson 2). Steals: 6. Turnovers: 12.