Panthers lose close contest with unique finish at Melissa
While many people were eating their black-eyed peas and watching college football on New Year Day, the Van Alstyne Panthers were in a big-time district basketball matchup against Melissa. The Panthers took their undefeated district record to Cardinal gymnasium. For those in the stands, the game's entertainment value was better than anything they were missing on television.
J.J. Boling would send the Panthers into the locker room tied up after a last-second three-pointer. But in the second half, the Cardinals would take control of the game leading by as much as seven points. But the Panthers made a run late in the fourth quarter to give them a chance in the final minute of play.
The Panthers had the ball after a timeout with twenty seconds to play, only down by three. The Cardinals set up in an extended zone surrounding the three-point line. Coach Russell Best had his players do something that left everyone in the gym confused, even the referee crew. J.J. Boling streaked down the court and headed to the basket by passing up the three-point line, laying the ball in for an easy two. Then he rebounded his own made shot, stepped out of bounds, and passed it to Carson Brown to lay it in for another basket. The whistle blew, and the referees huddled to sort out the scenario. The play could have been called a delay of game, stopping the clock, disallowing the additional goal and giving the Cardinals the ball with no real penalty to the Panthers, preserving seconds on the clock. However, the referee crew called a technical foul against the Panthers, which sealed the Cardinals' win, making the two free-throws and possession of the ball afterward. The Panthers would end up losing by the score of 69-72.
Beyond the stats, freshman Kade Ramer played a vital role in the game. Coach Best would substitute Ramer for foul troubled scorer Carson Brown on defense. When a good player gets in foul trouble, the opponents will go at that player while on defense to foul the player out of the game. Ramer's play enabled Brown to be available late in the game on the court's offensive end.
Scoring on the night for the Panthers: Carson Brown (27), JJ Boling (18), Blake Skipworth (9), Nathan Henley (8), Tom Fowler (5), Kade Ramer (2).
After the Panthers play Celina on Tuesday night (January 5), they will host Gainesville on Friday night, with Varsity tipping off at 7:30 pm.