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Panthers can't overcome early deficit in loss to Cougars

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

GREENFIELD – Class 2A Knightstown traveled to Class 4A Greenfield-Central Thursday night for a non-conference boys basketball game, with both varsity teams seeking a win to build momentum toward sectional games in around three weeks.

On Senior Night for all winter sports for the host Cougars' prep program, the Greenfield boys hoops team took command from the outset and went on to win 71-46.

In so doing, Greenfield-Central improved to 5-13 on the season, while a slumping Panther team fell to 5-12 on the winter 2017-18 regular season. The result broke an eight-game losing streak for the Cougars, while the defeat was the seventh straight for Knightstown.

The Panthers stood at 5-5 before losing at Shenandoah to the Raiders in the Henry County Tournament final on Jan. 6.

Knightstown stands at 3-4 in the school’s first varsity boys basketball season in the Tri-Eastern Conference (TEC), with only a home game left versus Hagerstown on Feb. 17. Greenfield-Central finished the Hoosier Heritage Conference (HHC) season at 1-6.

Before Thursday’s win, the Cougars had last won a game on Dec. 29.

With five seniors starting on the special night for the Hancock County school, the hosts moved ahead 9-2 early, and led 18-9 at the first quarter stop. By the half, GC led 37-14, and was not seriously threatened again.

The height and length of the Cougar seniors was key throughout the contest, as 6-6 senior point guard Will O’Connor had a big night, scoring 31 points, while classmate Austin Lester added 12 points, and 6-8 GC senior center Brian Long scored nine points along with an unofficial total of eight rebounds. Guard Matt Turner also scored nine markers, and Ian Robertson hit both of his charity tosses for two points.

The Cougars recorded 28 field goals in the game, doubling the Panther team total of 14. Through the first three quarters, GC hit 21 of 41 field goals, unofficially.

Most of the Knightstown scoring came from the team’s starting guard pairing of senior Jerrod Porter and junior Jose Olivo, as Porter led the way with 14 points and Olivo added 11.

Olivo hit two treys in the third quarter, while Porter hit a three-pointer in the fourth. After Knightstown recorded just 14 points in the first half, the Panthers put up 16 points in the third quarter alone, then matched that total in the fourth quarter, but still could not make any headway in narrowing the deficit for the duration of the night.

All of which was a frustration to Panther Varsity Head Coach Dusty Magee.

“When you don’t show up to compete and play with any energy, you are going to get blown out, and that is what happened to us,” Magee said after a long talk with his charges. “Right now, I think the team is down a little bit, and we just need to simply play better.”

His analysis of the situation includes a hard look in the mirror.

“I think part of the responsibility for making that (playing better) happen is with me as the head varsity coach, and with my coaching staff," Magee explained. "We need to find seven or eight guys that will come out every day, practice well and practice hard, and then do the same and play that way when the lights are on (in games).”

The senior guard Porter spoke of this game’s outcome, and the Knightstown varsity team this season.

“Well, we knew it could be rough this year because we basically have a whole new team, with so many new varsity players,” Porter said.

He, in fact, is one of those new players, but he had positive comments for his team, and teammates.

“But our guys have worked together well this season, and we’ve had a lot of close games that we have lost, so I don’t think our record reflects how we have played in some of the losses.”

The senior guard spoke of the midweek game at Greenfield.

“Playing here at a 4A school is tough, as I understand they have also lost a number of overtime games," Porter said, "and like us, have played better than the team’s won-loss record.”

The host Cougars were right back in action Friday night in non-conference action, hosting Franklin County. Knightstown had a day off Friday before hosting South Decatur on Saturday night.

In an exciting junior varsity game before the Senior Night ceremonies, the Cougar junior varsity team rallied in the fourth quarter to pull out a 48-46 win.

Knightstown broke out of a tie after the first quarter to lead by double digits in the second quarter and throughout the third quarter.

But the hosts hit a two-point fielder to end the third quarter, and make the score 41-30, KHS, with only the fourth quarter to play. But GC outscored the Panthers 18-5 in the fourth quarter. Jack Fort led Knightstown with 22 points.

Greenfield-Central 71, Knightstown 46

KNIGHTSTOWN (46)

Porter 6-11 1-2 14, Thomas 0-1 2-2 2, Olivo 3-8 3-5 11, T. Burton 1-8 2-2 4, Personett 2-7 0-0 4, Lukens 0-2 2-2 2, Cook 1-5 5-6 7, C. Burton 0-1 0-0 0, Parker 0-0 0-0 0, Fort 0-0 0-2 0, Strawsma 0-1 0-0 0, Edwards 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 14-45 15-21 46.

GREENFIELD-CENTRAL (71)

W. O’ Connor 12-20 4-4 31, Turner 4-4 0-0 9, Long 4-6 1-3 9, Graddy 1-4 0-0 2, B. Mundell 2-2 0-1 4, C. Mundell 0-1 0-0 0, Cochran 1-3 0-0 2, Robertson 0-6 2-2 2. Evanoff 0-2 0-0 0, Lester 4-7 3-3 12, Hunt 0-1 0-0 0, Strong 0-0 0-0 0, McIntire 0-1 0-0 0, C. O’Connor 0-0 0-0 0, Carter 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-59 10-13 71.

Knightstown`9`5`16`16`-46

Greenfield-Central`18`19`14`20`-71

3-point goals – Knightstown 3 (Olivo 2, Porter), Greenfield-Central 5 (W. O’Connor 3, Turner, Lester). Rebounds – Knightstown 28 (T. Burton 6), Greenfield-Central 30 (Long 8). Total fouls – Knightstown 15, Greenfield-Central 20. Turnovers – Knightstown 11, Greenfield-Central 6. JV score – Greenfield-Central 48, Knightstown 46. Records – Knightstown 5-12, Greenfield-Central 5-13.