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Panthers down Huntsmen to reach district finals

Chesapeake’s Austin McMaster drives through the Huntington Huntsmen defense to score two of his 24 points. The Panthers won 68-57 on Friday to reach the Division III district finals. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

ATHENS — The Chesapeake Panthers learned a valuable lesson, and they managed to do it without losing their rank in the class known as the postseason tournament.

Giving a less than inspired performance, the Panthers still managed to hold off the Huntington Huntsmen 68-57 on Friday in the Division III district semifinals.

Chesapeake blew a 17-point lead in the third quarter and committed an uncharacteristic 17 turnovers.

“This should be a lesson to everybody that you can’t measure heart, you can’t measure intensity, you can’t measure work ethic,” said Panthers’ head coach Ryan Davis.

“It doesn’t help that everyone is predicting our guys are going to win by 40. You have to come out and work every night at tournament time and they wanted it a lot more than we did.”

The Panthers (21-1) will play Peebles at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, in the district finals at Ohio University. Peebles beat Zane Trace 67-40.

Chesapeake did manage to shoot well. They made 21 of 44 shots for 48 percent and converted 22 of 29 free throws including 11 of 13 in the fourth quarter.

Austin McMaster led the Panthers with a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds. He also had four blocked shots.

Eric Kennedy had 22 points, Javon Thompson 11 points and five rebounds while Patrick Hintz added five steals and three assists.

Huntington (15-7) was led by Dylan Gragg with 23 points. Blake Campbell scored 12 and Brice Vickers had 10 points and 5 rebounds. Brian Hall grabbed 6 rebounds.

The Panthers started well, taking a 13-3 lead on a trey by McMaster and it was 20-11 at the end of the quarter on a layup by Brandon Noble off a nice pass from Hintz.

Kennedy drained a 3-pointer with 2:42 left in the half to open up a 33-18 lead, but Gragg made a layup and Brenden Campbell’s steal was turned into a layup by Blake Campbell to make it 33-22 at the half.

A short runner in the lane by Thompson and a free throw by McMaster gave the Panthers their biggest lead at 41-24 with 5:51 on the third quarter clock.

But Blake Campbell nailed back-to-back triples and Vickers added one of his own and the Huntsmen had sliced the margin to 41-33 at the 3:48 mark.

Kennedy’s layup put the Panthers up 11 but Gragg scored just before the end of the quarter and it was 47-38.

Jake Kellough made two layups and hit a 3-pointer with 6:44 to play that got the Huntsmen within 49-45.

“It was less than ideal. There wasn’t a lot of intensity out there. We didn’t guard the way we usually guard,” said Davis. “It was the Chesapeake Panthers fault the way they played and the Huntington Huntsmen who came out and played hard.”

Leading by seven, the Panthers went on an 8-0 run capped by McMaster’s dunk and it was 62-51 with 1:08 to play.

The Panthers then went 6 of 6 at the foul line over the final minute to seal the win.

Huntington 11 11 16 19 = 57

Chesapeake 20 13 14 21 = 68

HUNTINGTON ROSS (15-7): Brice Vickers 3 1 1-2 10, Blake Campbell 2 2 2-3 12, Brian Hall 0 0 0-0 0, Brenden Campbell 0 1 0-0 3, Dylan Gragg 8 0 7-10 23, Jacob Kellough 3 1 0-1 9, Luke Hocker 0 0 0-0 0, Tim Grubb 0 0 0-0 0, Shane Simmons 0 0 0-0 0, Austin Long 0 0 0-0 0, David Shoemaker 0 0 0-0 0, Elijah Shanks 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-58 10-16 57. 3-point goals: 5-17. Rebounds: 12-19=31 (Hall 6, Vickers 5, Br. Campbell 4). Team rebounds: 8. Assists: 7 (Br. Campbell 4). Steals: 7 (Kellough 3). Turnovers: 17. Blocked shots: Hall 1. Fouls: 20. Fouled out: None.

CHESAPEAKE (21-1): Patrick Hintz 1 0 2-2 4, Eric Kennedy 4 1 11-15 22, Brandon Noble 3 0 1-2 7, Javon Thompson 4 0 3-4 11, Austin McMaster 5 3 5-6 24, Chad Meadows 0 0 0-0 0, Taylor Banaei 0 0 0-0 0, Caleb Lindsey 0 0 0-0 0, Austin Carpenter 0 0 0-0 0, Mikey Walters 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-44 22-29 68. 3-point goals: 4-17. Rebounds: 6-27=33 (McMaster 10, Thompson 5). Team rebounds: 5. Assists: 9 (Hintz 3). Steals: 12 (Hintz 5, Noble 3). Turnovers: 17. Blocked shots: 5 (McMaster 4, Thompson 1). Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.