Panthers Score Win In Opening Game

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The Litchfield Purple Panthers would start the 2021 Carlinville Holiday tournament out with a bang with a 55-44 victory over the Minutemen from Bunker Hill in the Green Pool.  

Litchfield, who has had some success in this tournament over the past years, would enter the contest as the two seed with a 5-5 overall record while Bunker Hill would enter as the seven seed with a 1-9 record.  These two teams would be familiar with each other as they squared off in Litchfield two weeks earlier, as Litchfield would defeat Bunker Hill in a lopsided affair.  

In the first contest between these two schools, the Purple Panthers defense would dominate the Bunker Hill squad.  This contest would start out in slow fashion as both teams would look to be still dreaming of sugar plums dancing in their heads.  Neither team could get the ball rolling on the offense side of the court.  

It would take nearly four minutes before the first basket would be scored in the contest.  Bunker Hill would have those honors as Grant Burch would connect on a trey to give Bunker Hill a 3-0 lead with 4:23 left to play in the opening quarter.  

The Purple Panthers would respond with the next seven points, partially due to the defense tightening the reigns.  Four of those seven points would come off Bunker Hill turnovers.  

Bunker Hill would not allow the contest to get away from them as they would respond with a 7-0 run that would allow the Minutemen to regain the lead at 10-7 with just under two minutes to play.  Litchfield would put the last touches on the quarter as Carson Saathoff connected on a field goal narrowing Bunker Hill’s lead to 10-9 as time expired in the first quarter. 

The first quarter would see two teams struggling to find the “great” shot as both teams’ offense would settle for a three-point attempt.  With both teams playing a zone defense, the shot behind the arc seemed to be the easiest option, but both teams would shoot 20 percent or below from that spot.  

In the second quarter Litchfield would try to turn the tide as they would be able to get the “great” shot on Bunker Hill’s zone defense.  Litchfield would be able to take 12 shots from inside the arc during the second frame.  Only connecting on four of those attempts, it would be enough to take over the lead throughout the quarter as Litchfield’s defense would keep Bunker Hill’s offense to a low production.  

Litchfield’s defense would make things tough for Bunker Hill throughout the quarter as they would force seven turnovers in the quarter and 15 total turnovers in the half.  

Victor McGill would have the hot hand for Litchfield in the quarter as he would connect on nine of the Purple Panthers’ 14 second quarter points.  McGill’s scoring output would help give Litchfield a 23-18 lead at the half.  McGill would end the half with 14 total points leading all scorers. 

Leading by five points the Purple Panthers would look to build on that lead in the opening minutes of the second half.  That they did, as they would come out of the locker room on a 6-2 run to increase their lead to 29-20.  

The pesky Minutemen though would not back down after the early run.  

As in most basketball games for every peak there is a valley, and in this case the Minutemen would climb out of their valley and battle back with a 12-4 run that would be capped off by a three-point basket from Grant Burch, his fourth in the contest.  The late run by the Minutemen would narrow the Litchfield lead to 33-32 after three quarters of action. 

Litchfield would use the third quarter challenge by Bunker Hill as a wake-up call and would strike often in the fourth frame.  The Purple Panthers would make sure they took care of business in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter as they would sprint out to a 49-36 lead that would put the Minutemen in a deep valley.  

Bunker Hill would give a valid effort to climb out of that valley, but the 13-point lead would be too big to overcome.  Litchfield would earn a hard fought battle as they would defeat Bunker Hill 55-44.  

Litchfield overcame many obstacles throughout the contest as they would have to fend off the seven-seed Minutemen, but the obstacles fought might have shown the maturity level the Purple Panthers have gained throughout the season.  

The win would move Litchfield to 1-0 in pool play and 6-5 overall, while Bunker Hill fell to 0-1 in pool play and 1-10 overall. Victor McGill and Keenan Powell would lead all scorers with 21 points, Powell would put a cap on his scoring as he connected on his first high school career dunk as a sophomore.

Dec. 27 at Carlinville

Carlinville Holiday Tournament

Litchfield 9 14 10 22 55

Bunker Hill 10 8 14 12 44

Litchfield (55) - Victor McGill 21, Keenan Powell 21, A.J. Odle 5, Tate Dobrinich 4, Bryce Hires 2, Carson Saathoff 2. Totals: 22 6-12 55.

Bunker Hill (44) - Grant Burch 17, Keegan Ralston 11, Daniel Manar 9, Jaydon Hausman 7. Totals: 17 4-4 44.

Three-point field goals: Litchfield 5 (McGill 3, Odle 1, Powell 1); Bunker Hill 6 (Burch 5, Hausman 1).

Records: Litchfield (6-5); Bunker Hill (1-10).

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