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Panthers hold off Coyotes in district matchup

By Griff Servati
For the Van Alstyne Leader
JJ Boling played against Anna, scoring 15 points, despite an injury in the previous game.

    On Jan 22, the Panthers took the short trip to the Anna coliseum. The game would have district implications as the third-place Coyotes needed a victory to move on the second-place Panthers. 

    There was some concern that the Panthers would be without team leader JJ Boling, as he rolled his ankle in the previous game. Through the VAHS athletic trainer's efforts and Boling himself, he would be cleared to play three days following the injury. Emery said of the recovery, "He worked hard from Tuesday night until the determination evaluation on Friday afternoon when we made the call that he would get to play. Twenty-four hours prior, I prepared myself to tell him he would be the team's biggest cheerleader and motivator instead of playing. His determination, perseverance, and work ethic were unmatched in the healing process."

Carson Brown led the Panthers with 20 points, none of them were easy as this picture illustrates.

    The game started with a frantic pace with 39 points scored in the first quarter by both teams with Anna leading 21-18. However, the adrenaline in the second quarter could not be maintained by the Coyotes. The Panthers would hold their opponent to only three points while scoring fourteen. The Panthers would control the game through the third period leading by the score of 52-39. However, the Coyotes would not go down without a fight on their homecourt, as they would start the fourth quarter with a 11-0 run, and getting the score to only a two-point deficit at 50-52. 

    The Panthers would score their first points of the quarter after every player touched the ball on a press break and a finish at Tom Fowler's basket. In the next possession, the Panthers press created a steal by Carson Brown, who made two free throws after a very hard foul on a dunk attempt. The Panthers would quell the Coyote comeback when the teams' guards controlled the ball under the Coyote pressure until Senior Nate Henley was found open in the corner for a big three-point shot. After a missed three by Anna, the Panthers Boling took the rebound and made a long pass to the streaking Henley, who made a bank shot from the block. The Panthers' lead was now back up to eleven, and they would go to win by the score of 67-55. 

Tom Fowler with an important layup in the fourth quarter as the Panthers won at Anna.

    Carson Brown would lead the Panthers in scoring on the night with twenty. Others scoring on the night were JJ Boling 15, Tom Fowler 13, Nathan Henley 10, Blake Skipworth 6, Blake Hyatt 2 and Kade Ramer 1. 

    The Panthers have a vital matchup against Melissa on Tuesday night; a win is needed to give the Panthers a chance at a co-district title.