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Panthers mature in win over Tigers

Jim Walker



For the Chesapeake Panthers, it’s all about growing pains.

No, not the TV show. For the Panthers it was a chance to grow individually and as a team with leading scorer Gage Rhoades still nursing a sore hamstring.

Chesapeake lost at Boyd County on Tuesday with Rhoades out, but that wasn’t the case on Friday as the Panthers held off the Ironton Fighting Tigers 63-58 in an Ohio Valley Conference game.

“We had the same opportunity Tuesday but we were just so unsure of ourselves in everything,” said Panthers’ coach Ryan Davis.

“Our defense looked awful Tuesday which doesn’t make sense. It’s the same guys who can guard with (Rhoades) in the lineup.”

Brad Meadows did his usual things with 26 points and 12 rebounds, but Kolton Webb scored 13 points and Jake Stevens had 10 to pick up the scoring slack.

The Panthers showed their growth down the stretch when Ironton erased a 15-point deficit and got within 53-45 on a 3-pointer by Marques Davis with 1:19 to play.

Chesapeake was able to convert 8-of-12 the rest of the way to secure the win. Stevens was 4-of-6, Webb 2-of-2 and Meadows 3-of-4 down the stretch.

“Stevens is more than capable, he’s just not been stuck in that situation. It’s a different look. It makes them grow up,” said Davis.

“Obviously we’d like to have Gage, but it’s not the worst thing in the world to make you grow up and guys take a little more responsibility and not look for a crutch all the time.”

Ironton coach Mark LaFon was scratching his head trying to understand his team’s performance after playing a tough game at Fairland on Monday and upsetting Portsmouth on Tuesday.

The Fighting Tigers were just 20-of-52 from the field while the Panthers were 21-of-39.

“It just seemed like we were vanilla in everything we did. We weren’t getting any loose balls, and when we did we were turning it back over to them. I don’t know how many wide-open shots Chesapeake took and how many layups they got,” said LaFon.

“Usually, if you’re giving up one, you’re not giving up the other. We didn’t take care of one or the other.”

The Panthers closed the first quarter with six straight points for a 15-8 lead.

Ironton got within 24-16 on a trifecta by Davis with 4:39 left in the half and his triple just before the half made it 30-22.

Chesapeake opened up a 40-24 lead on a triple by Casey McComas and two layups by Webb.

Phil Kratzenberg and Davis each dialed up long range shots to get Ironton within 44-32 at the end of the quarter.

A layup by Wesley Stephens stretched Chesapeake’s lead to 52-37 with 2:06 to play before Ironton used 3-pointers by Kratzenberg, Davis and Ryan Bryant to trail 59-55 with 16 seconds to play.

But Stevens and Meadows each sank two foul shots to halt the comeback.

‘Offensively, when we did attack we missed the layups we had opportunities for and most of the time when we did take a shot everybody was standing and watching the guy take shots. It was just a lot of standing and not a lot of emotion,” said LaFon.

“It’s hard for me to understand. We made a run at the end, but they’re not going to miss all their free throws down the stretch like you need them to when you’re giving up a 10-, 12-point lead with three minutes to go.”

With the win Chesapeake (15-5, 9-3) was still clinging to an outside chance to share the league title. However, the Panthers would have to win out and the Fairland Dragons would have to lose their final three OVC games.

Ironton fell to 9-10 overall and 6-6 in the league.

On Tuesday, Ironton goes to South Point and Chesapeake visits Coal Grove in league games.

Chesapeake 15 15 14 21 = 63

Ironton 8 14 10 26 = 58

CHESAPEAKE (15-5, 9-3): Jake Stevens 3 0 4-6 10, Kolton Webb 3 1 4-4 13, Brad Meadows 8 0 10-12 26, Wesley Stephens 4 0 1-3 9, Casey McComas 0 2 1-2 7, Austin Hutchison 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-39 20-28 63. 3-point goals: 3-11. Rebounds: 7-O, 19-D = 26 (Meadows 12, Stephens 6). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 3 (Webb 2). Steals: 10 (Webb 3, McComas 2, Meadows 2). Turnovers: 12. Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None.

IRONTON (9-10, 6-6): Travis Carey 3 1 0-0 9, Ethan Wilson 3 0 0-1 6, Marques Davis 1 6 0-0 20, Desmond Young 1 0 1-1 3, Hunter Klaiber 0 0 -0 0, Phil Kratzenberg 0 2 2-2 8, Raphael Glover 0 0 2-2 2, Ty Gunther 0 0 0-0 0, Ryan Bryant 1 2 2-2 10. Totals: 20-52 7-8 58. 3-point goals: 11-24. Rebounds: 15-O, 13-D = 28 (Carey 8, Bryant 7). Team rebounds: 3. Assists: 8 (Wilson 4, Kratzenberg 2). Steals: 5 (Wilson 2). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: Young (4th 0:35), Kratzenberg (4th 0:28).