The Litchfield Purple Panthers would secure a spot in the championship game of the Carlinville Holiday Tournament on Wednesday night, Dec. 29, with a 56-49 victory over the host school Carlinville Cavaliers.
Litchfield would put together a solid performance throughout the contest as an upset minded Cavalier team would push the Purple Panther club.
The number three seeded Cavaliers would enter the contest with three wins on the season and a loss by the hands of the seventh seed, Bunker Hill. Litchfield on the other hand would enter the contest with seven wins and would bring a winning record for the first time since Dec. 13, 2019.
Even though the Cavaliers would enter the contest as an underdog they would start the contest with the first five points. Trailing 5-0, the Panthers would turn things around quickly. After missing their first seven shots, the Panthers would connect on their first points when Keenan Powell knocked down a three-pointer with just over four minutes to play in the opening quarter.
Litchfield would use the next two minutes to overcome the early deficit and build a lead. The 10-0 run would give the Panthers a 10-5 lead with just over two minutes to play.
The Cavaliers would not allow the Panthers to completely take over the contest as they would match Litchfield in the remaining two minutes of the first quarter. Carlinville would finish the quarter with a three-point basket from Ethen Siglock, narrowing the Litchfield lead to 15-12 after one quarter of action. Victor McGill, A.J. Odle, and Keenan Powell would lead the way for Litchfield in the scoring column as each connected on five points apiece.
Since the beginning of the season, the Panthers have steadily improved on all aspects of their game. One thing that has stayed consistent, though, is their defense. The Panthers’ defense has been a talk of many stories and in this contest it would be the same.
Litchfield would force the Cavaliers to commit over 15 turnovers in the first half, most of them coming on their half court defense. When the Cavaliers crossed the time line, the Panthers would be like a bunch of piranhas feeding on their prey.
With just over four minutes to play in the quarter, Clayton Bishop would knock down two free throw attempts, giving Litchfield a 23-16 lead. The Cavies would not go away as they would use the next two minutes to narrow the Litchfield lead. A 6-0 Carlinville run would drop Litchfield’s lead to 23-22 with 150 ticks left on the clock.
Both teams would exchange points, including a last second basket by Carlinville, as Litchfield would hold a 28-26 lead at the half. Keenan Powell would lead the Panthers in the scoring column at the half with 10 points, but Carlinville’s big guy, Aaron Wills, would lead all scorers with 12 points.
Just like in the opening quarter, the Purple Panthers would struggle to connect on a shot in the beginning of the second half. Missing their first five shots would not affect Litchfield, though, as Carlinville would fail to capitalize on the early misses.
Litchfield would get the first two baskets of the half as they would build their two-point lead up to six, 32-26. Again the Cavaliers would not go away as they would begin to match the Panthers’ baskets.
Up by three points, the Panthers would put their foot down and look to get the upset-minded Cavies off their tails. Victor McGill would put down a big three-point basket that increased Litchfield’s lead to 37-31 and began a 7-0 run for the Panthers.
The run would be capped off when A.J. Odle drove down the right side of the lane and forced the Cavaliers to foul him. Odle would put in both free throw attempts as Litchfield would now hold their biggest lead of the contest at 41-31.
Carlinville would accept the challenge and end the third frame on a 7-0 run narrowing Litchfield’s lead to 41-38. Victor McGill would lead Litchfield in the scoring column as he connected on nine of Litchfield’s 13 third quarter points.
Litchfield did not want to have Carlinville in striking distance and would help that case in the early minutes of the final quarter. Litchfield would start the final frame on a 9-3 run that would increase their three-point lead to nine points, 50-41. The pesky Cavaliers would once again not go away. Just like any other basketball games for every peak there is a valley, but Litchfield would not allow themselves to fall deep in their valley.
Carlinville would be able to narrow the Litchfield lead back down to three points as they would connect on the next nine points. Coming out of their valley, Litchfield would finish the fourth quarter outscoring Carlinville 6-2 and securing a 56-49 victory.
The victory would earn a spot in the championship game of the Carlinville Holiday Tournament. The key for the Panthers in the money quarter would be shooting 5-for-5 from the free-throw line, as the Panthers would only miss one free throw in the entire contest, going 12-for-13.
Victor McGill would lead all scorers with 27 points followed by Keenan Powell’s 12 points. The win would move Litchfield to 3-0 in pool play and 8-5 overall.
Dec. 29 at Carlinville
Carlinville Holiday Tournament
Litchfield 15 13 13 15 56
Carlinville 12 14 12 11 49
Litchfield (56) - Victor McGill 27, Keenan Powell 12, A.J. Odle 9, Clayton Bishop 2, Tate Dobrinich 2, Carson Saathoff 2, Bryce Hires 2. Totals: 19 12-14 56.
Carlinville (49) - Aaron Wills 23, Mason Duckels 9, Ayden Tiburzi 8, Ethen Siglock 6, Ryenn Hart 3. Totals: 20 6-13 49.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 6 (McGill 4, Odle 1, Powell 1); Carlinville 3 (Siglock 2, Tiburzi 1).
Records: Litchfield (8-5); Carlinville (3-7).
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