Cold-shooting Panthers fall in district finals

Published 12:34 am Saturday, March 5, 2022

Chesapeake Panthers’ seniors Ben Bragg (32) and Levi Blankenship display the Division 3 district runner-up trophy.. The duo combined for 40 of the Panthers in a 63-47 loss to the Wheelersburg Pirates on Friday. (Photo by Tim Gearhart)


Chesapeake Panthers’ Ben Bragg (32) goes high into the air to score against the Wheelersburg Pirates in the Division 3 district finals on Friday. The Panthers fell 63-47. (Josh Wilson Photography/facebook)

Jim Walker

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WAVERLY — This looked like a bad sequel to the movie Trading Places.

It seemed the Chesapeake Panthers and Wheelersburg Pirates switched offensive styles on Friday as the hot-shooting Pirates beat the Panthers 64-47 to win the Division 3 district title.

The Pirates scored just 35 points in upsetting top-seeded Minford by 6 points in the district semifinals. Against the Panthers, they shot and shot. And they made them and made them.

The Pirates were on fire as they made 11-of-18 shots in the first half for 61 percent. And while that is some hot shooting, they made 7-of-11 shots in the third quarter for 64 percent as they turned a 6-point halftime lead into a 13-point cushion.

The Pirates were just having one of those nights unfortunately for Chesapeake. Wheelersburg finished the game 22-of-36 from the field for 61 percent.

Shooting has been a major strength for the Panthers all season. When they shoot well — especially from 3-point range — they usually win or lose by only a point or two.

On this night, the Panthers were 15-of-49 for 31 percent and a meager 4-of-25 from behind the arc for a dismal 16 percent.

Eli Swords — who averaged 16 points on the season — had a career night with 34 points including five 3-pointers and made 12-of-16 field goal attempts.

Cooper McKenzie added 12 points and 5 boards. Josh Clark grabbed 9 rebounds and Swords had 8 as the Pirates out-rebounded the Panthers 29-18.

Chesapeake (15-9) was led by its two seniors as Ben Bragg scored 21 points and Levi Blankenship 19.

The game was close throughout the first half.

The Panthers led 6-2 after a layup by Bragg and a steal and layup by Dannie Maynard.

Wheelersburg went on a 7-0 run to lead 9-6 but a 3-pointer and layup by Blankenship made it 11-9 and a free throw by Bragg gave Chesapeake a 129 lead.

Swords hit a 3-pointer and short jumper before the end of the quarter to put the Pirates up 14-12.

Blankenship drained a 25-footer to start the second quarter as Chesapeake took its last lead of the game at 15-14.

A layup by McKenzie and 3-pointers by Swords and Tyler Sommer made it 22-15. A layup by McKenzie and a short jumper by Sommer opened up a 26-17 lead.

Blankenship hit a trifecta and a short bank shot and Braxton Oldaker had a layup as the Panthers got within 26-24.

But the Pirates went up 30-24 at the half as Nolan Wright made a 3-pointer and Clark hit a foul shot with four seconds left in the half.

Chesapeake went cold in the third quarter with a 3-for-11 shooting from the field. Bragg scored 10 of the 12 points in the quarter.

The Pirates used their hot shooting to build a 47-30 lead. Bragg made 4 foul shots and Blankenship a pair to cut the gap to 47-36 only to have Sommer made a layup and it was 49-36.

Bragg scored the first 7 points of the quarter for the Panthers including a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 49-43.

Swords made a free throw and then converted a 3-point play to blow the game open at 60-44 and the Panthers could only manage 3 free throws the rest of the game.

The Pirates play Sugarcreek Garaway at 8p.m. in the regional semifinals on Wednesday at the Ohio University Convocation Center.

Wheelersburg 14 16 19 15 = 64

Chesapeake  12 12 12 11 = 47

WHEELERSBURG (15-11): Josh Clark 1 1 2-6 5, Nolan Wright 0 1 0-0 3, Eli Swords 7 5 5-8 34, Jackson Schwamburger 0 0 2-2 2, Cooper mcKenzie 5 0 2-2 12, Braxton Rose 0 0 0-0 0, Conner Estep 0 0 1-3 1, Tyler Sommer 2 1 0-0 7, Luke Swords 0 0 0-0 0, Kaden Johnson 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-36 12-21 64. 3-pt goals: 8-13. Rebounds: 5-O, 24-D = 29 (Clark 9, E. Swords 8). Turnovers: 17. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: None.

CHESAPEAKE (15-9): Levi Blankenship 3 3 4-4 19, Dannie Maynard 1 0 1-5 3, J.D. Daniels 0 0 0-0 0, Braxton Oldaker 2 0 0-0 4, Ben Bragg 5 1 8-9 21, Caleb Cox 0 0 0-0 0, Camron Shockley 0 0 0-0 0, Austin Henderson 0 0 0-0 0, Carter Collins 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-49 9-13 47. 3-pt goals: 4-25. Rebounds: 8-O, 11-D = 19 (Bragg 6, Oldaker 5). Team/Deadball rebounds: 1. Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 19. Fouled out: Maynard (4th 2:12), Daniels (4th 0:36).