Panthers shake off rust to claim sectional title
JACKSON — Someone call the Tin Man and see if the Chesapeake Panthers can borrow his oilcan.
The Panthers battled through the affects of a 14-day layoff and beat the River Valley Raiders 49-40 on Friday to win the Division III sectional title.
“We looked a little rusty. We didn’t look sluggish. I felt we were fine in that respect. It wasn’t real pretty, but at this time of the year they don’t ask what your scores were along the way, they ask how far you went,” said Panthers’ coach Ryan Davis.
The Panthers (20-2) will go another one more step deeper in the tournament as they play Piketon at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 8, in the district semifinals at Ohio University. Piketon beat Southeastern 45-44.
Chesapeake was only 17-of-49 from the field for 34.7 percent and 3-of-14 from behind the arc.
Although the offense struggled, the defense clamped down on the Raiders for the greater part of the game. River Valley managed just 24 shots through three quarters.
“Part of the parity in scoring is there’s a lot of parity in Southeastern Ohio basketball teams this year. There aren’t a lot of standouts and everybody is close to each other. If one team doesn’t play very well, it can lead to the game being pretty close,” said Davis.
The Panthers made only 3-of-13 shots in the first quarter. A layup by Gage Rhoades put Chesapeake up 9-7 but a 3-pointer by Tyler Twyman just before the buzzer gave the Raiders a 10-9 lead.
Rhoades and Aaron Thompson made layups to start the second quarter and put the Panthers up for good at 13-10.
Layups by Thompson and Austin Carpenter anda foul shot by Brad Meadows opened up an 18-12 lead with 1:46 left in the half.
Twyman hit another triple but Kolton Webb answered with a trifecta for the Panthers and Jake Stevens made two free throws and it was 23-15 at the half.
Twyman scored all 10 of his points in the first half. He took just four shots in the second half — all in the fourth quarter.
“We had a couple of breakdowns in the first half and left (Twyman) open which doesn’t make sense,” said Davis.
“At halftime we’d given up 15 points but we’d only scored 23. Giving up 15 is a pretty good thing. You figure at some point we’d loosen up a little bit and break out of it. We just weren’t very smooth.”
The Panthers continued to struggle in the third quarter as they made only 4-of-13 shots.
River Valley got within 27-24 on a layup by Jon Qualls with 1:12 on the clock. But Stevens hit a trey and a short baseline jumper by Rhoades put the lead at 32-26 at the end of the quarter.
“In the second half, a couple of breakdowns let it get back closer than what we wanted. Our looks just weren’t very smooth,” said Davis.
Dayton Hardway hit a 12-footer and a 17-footer to start the fourth quarter as the Raiders got within 32-30 with 6:18 to play.
But Stevens hit a clutch 3-pointer and Meadows made a short jumper for a 37-30 lead.
A steal and layup by Qualls and a foul shot by Kirk Morrow closed the gap to 37-35 with 2:41 left, Rhoades fed Carpenter for a layup and then made one of his own and it was 41-35.
Another layup by Carpenter put the lead at 43-37 and then Rhoades hit both ends of a one-and-one and Stevens went 4-for-4 over the final 23 seconds to seal the win.
Rhoades had 14 points, five assists and three steals for the Panthers. Stevens finished with 12 points and Meadows pulled down 13 rebounds.
River Valley (11-11) had four plays in double figures as Morrow scored 11 while Tyman, Qualls and Hardway had 10 each.
River Valley 10 5 11 14 = 40
Chesapeake 9 14 9 17 = 49
RIVER VALLEY (11-11): Kirk Morrow 3 1 2-5 11, Tyler Twyman 2 2 0-0 10, Jon Qualls 5 0 0-0 10, Justin Rusk 0 0 0-1 0, Jacob Dovenbarger 0 0 1-4 1, Dayton Hardway 5 0 0-0 10, Austin Neekamp 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-41 3-10 40. 3-point goals: 3-13. Rebounds: 8-off 23-def. = 31 (Morrow 8, Twyman 7, Qualls 6, Dovenbarger 5). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 3. Steals: 4 (Morrow 3). Turnovers: 16. Blocked shots: 3 (Hardway 2, Neekamp 1). Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.
CHESAPEAKE (20-2): Kolton Webb 0 1 0-0 3, Nate Smith 0 0 0-0 0, Gage Rhoades 5 0 4-4 14, Brad Meadows 2 0 1-5 5, Aaron Thompson 4 0 0-0 8, Jake Stevens 0 2 6-6 12, Austin Carpenter 3 0 1-2 7. Totals: 17-49 12-17 49. 3-point goals: 3-14. Rebounds: 11-off 20-def. = 31 (Meadows 13, Thompson 4). Team rebounds: 6. Assists: 8 (Rhoades 5, Smith 2). Steals: 9 (Rhoades 3, Meadows 2). Blocked shots: 3 (Rhoades, Meadows, Thompson). Fouls: 13. Fouled out: Smith (4th 2:41).