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Panthers cut down nets earning district championship

By Griff Servati
For the Van Alstyne Leader
VAHS Senior Nate Henley cuts down the nets for the district championship.

    The Van Alstyne Panthers cut down the nets on the final home game of the season. The Panthers secured the district championship, the school's first team to earn one in the 4A classification. The Panthers' real test came a week prior, having to get two big wins against Melissa and Celina. 

JJ Boling splitting through the Cardinal defense.

    The Panthers faced off with the Melissa Cardinals on January 26th. The only district loss of the season came against the Cardinals on New Year's Day. That game was decided in the final minutes, but this one would be different. The Panthers took control of this game in the first quarter, where the score was 4-4 when the Panthers would go on an 8-0 run. The Panthers would lead by as many as 29 points. The Panthers shot an impressive 41% from beyond the three-point line. Leading the Panthers was Nathan Henley, who went 4/7, and Blake Skipworth was 3/5 from the three-point range. 

Scoring for the Panthers on the night was JJ Boling 17, Nathan Henley 14, Carson Brown 12, Blake Skipworth 9, Tom Fowler 8, and Blake Hyatt 5. 

Carson Brown led the Panthers in scoring the final week of play against Gainesville and Sanger.

    The Panthers knew that their victory over Melissa would not mean much if they did not take care of business when they traveled to Celina. The Panthers took control of the game early in the second quarter. The game was close in the second quarter when the two teams were tied at 17. The Panthers would outscore the Bobcats by thirteen points the rest of the second quarter to lead by 44-31 at the half. The Panthers would stretch the lead to seventeen points in the middle of the third. The closest the game would get is a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers would remain in control, winning 70-62. JJ Boling led all scorers with 23 points. Adding to the victory was Carson Brown with 12, Blake Skipworth 12, Nathan Henly 11, Tom Fowler 5, Kade Ramer 4, and Blake Hyatt 3.

Tom Fowler scoring for the Panthers on Senior Night.

    The Panthers' final week of action was two games if the Panthers just needed to take care of business to secure the championship. The Panthers did just that with two blowout games against Gainesville and on Senior Night against Sanger. The Panthers defeated Gainesville 96-46 on February 2nd. The entire team got involved in the Panthers' scoring: Carson Brown 25, Nathan Henley 21, Blake Hyatt 12, JJ Boing 10, Tom Fowler 8, Blake Skipworth 7, Sean Wilson 5, James Terrill 3, Dylan Geller 3, and Kade Ramer 2.    

The Panthers were dominant in the win over the last place Sanger, winning 81-35. Scoring for the Panthers on the night were: Carson Brown 23, Nathan Henley 15, Tom Fowler 13, JJ Boling 12, Dylan Geller 5, Sean Wilson 5, Kade Ramer 3, Blake Hyatt 3, and Blake Skipworth 2. 

    The Panthers finished the district season with a 11-1 record, Anna and Melissa tied with a 9-3 record and Celina was the fourth place team at 7-5. The Panthers will play the fourth place team out of District 10, either Summit International Prep or North Hills Prep. 

The VAHS Panthers claimed the Basketball district championship with an 11-1 record.

Additional hoops action scheduled.

To prepare for any makeup games due to missed games due to coronavirus, the district basketball coaches decided to move up district play during the holidays.  This cautious preparation left an open week at the end of the season for any missed games. However, none needed, and teams that are entering the playoffs do not want to sit until the second season starts. So the Panthers and the Lady Panthers have scheduled additional games: 

Tuesday - Feb 9th

@ VAHS 6:00 PM Varsity Boys vs. Brook Hill

@ VAMS 6:30 PM Varsity Girls vs. Paradise

Friday - Feb 12th

@ VAHS

4:30 PM JV Boys vs. Grandview JV

5:45 PM Varsity Boys vs. Grandview

Monday - Feb 15th

@ Greenville High School

5:30 PM Varsity Boys vs. Mt Pleasant

Be on the lookout for playoff game announcements. The Lady Panthers will play in the first round of the playoffs either this Thursday, Feb 11th or Friday, Feb 12th, against either Kennedale or Carrollton Ranchview. The boys will play the first round the following week on either Feb 18th or 19th.