Purple Panthers Battle Back To Sink Lancers

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You could almost hear the voice of the late Terry Todt rising in excitement as the Litchfield and Lincolnwood boys basketball teams squared off in the shootout that bears his name.

The fifth game of the T. Todt Shootout, held Saturday, Dec. 11, in Nokomis, had a little bit of everything for basketball fans: big three-pointers, acrobatic slashes to the basket and a pair of defensive efforts that resulted in more than a few floor burns for both teams.

Ultimately, the win would go to the Purple Panthers in this Montgomery County slugfest as they came back from a 13-point second quarter deficit to win 58-56.

Both teams clamped down on defense right off the tip, limiting each others’ offensive opportunities. Litchfield scored the first three points on a free throw by Bryce Hires and a runner in the lane by Keenan Powell, but Braden Whalen answered with five straight points to give the Lancers a lead.

Whalen accounted for Lincolnwood’s first seven points, but teammate Will Jenkins came up with a big three with three seconds left for a momentum builder for the Lancers, who led 10-5 after one.

Jenkins hit a pair of free throws to extend Lincolnwood’s lead to seven, but Litchfield came back with two free throws by Powell and a three by Clayton Bishop, Litchfield’s first of the game, but not their last.

Then, the wheels fell off for the Panthers for the next three and a half minutes. Lincolnwood outscored Litchfield 16-5 during the span as the Panthers were called for two technical fouls for arguing calls. The two technicals resulted in four free throws by Jenkins, and, combined with a pair of threes by Jonah Elvidge, the Lancers opened up a 13-point lead with 2:20 to play.

But as quickly as things seemed to fall apart, they got better for Litchfield thanks to the three-ball. Keenan Powell, who had hit a three 40 seconds earlier, hit his second triple of the quarter to draw Litchfield within 10. After a miss by the Lancers, Tate Dobrinich dialed up back-to-back threes from about three feet behind the arc, just in front of the Lincolnwood bench, to cut the lead from 10 to seven to four.

Braden Whalen stopped the 9-0 run with a pair of free throws at the 38 seconds mark, but Litchfield would have the last basket as Victor McGill swooped in for a layup with 3.8 seconds left to make it 30-26 at the break.

While those were McGill’s first points of the game, the Panthers’ sophomore leading scorer would play a bigger role in the second half, scoring nine points in the third quarter.

Every single one of those points would be needed too as it stayed a one possession game for much of the third quarter. Lincolnwood offset McGill’s production from two unlikely sources, Jonah Elvidge and Gabe Armentrout, who combined for nine of Lincolnwood’s 14 points in the quarter.

All five of Elvidges’ points came in the final two minutes as he hit his third three of the game and added two free throws at the one minute mark to give Lincolnwood a 44-43 lead. It looked as if that lead would hold as the quarter wound down, but Carson Saathoff came up with a steal and score in the final seconds to give Litchfield a 45-44 advantage.

The Panthers would not trail after Saathoff’s layup, but the Lancers were never far from the lead as Litchfield’s lead never grew past four points. The Panthers were up four with 70 seconds left in the game after McGill made the last of his team-high 16 points, but two free throws from Elvidge and a basket by Whalen erased that deficit with 46 seconds to play.

Litchfield’s answer was immediate as AJ Odle hit a three-pointer, Litchfield’s eighth of the game, to give the Panthers a three-point advantage once again.

Lincolnwood cut the lead to two on a free throw by Whalen and had the opportunity to tie the game in the final 20 seconds after McGill missed the front end of a 1-and-1.

As good as Litchfield was from behind the arc, their defense was the key to the win as  Bryce Hires stole Lincolnwood’s in-bounds attempt and got the ball to Odle, who was fouled with 3.9 seconds left.

Odle missed the front end of his 1-and-1 as well, but Lincolnwood was unable to get a last minute shot off in time as they fell to the Panthers by two.

In addition to Victor McGill’s 16, 14 of which came in the second half, Litchfield also got 14 points from Keenan Powell and 12 from Tate Dobrinich. Clayton Bishop (5), Carson Saathoff (4), Bryce Hires (4) and AJ Odle (3) also scored for the Panthers, who are 3-4 after the win.

Litchfield’s eight threes were the second most of the day, one behind the Hillsboro JV squad, who had nine.

Lincolnwood’s one-two punch of Will Jenkins and Braden Whalen continued to lead the Lancers in scoring with 17 and 15 respectively, but Elvidge provided a spark off the bench with 13 points. Gabe Armentrout added eight points, going 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, while Brady Schmedeke chipped in two. As a team, Lincolnwood was 25-for-31 from the charity stripe, with Jenkins going 11-of-12 and Elvidge going 4-of-5.

Lincolnwood will try to get things going on Tuesday, Dec. 14, against Gillespie at the Woodshed in Raymond, while Litchfield’s next game is Wednesday, Dec. 15, at home against Bunker Hill.

December 11 at Nokomis

T. Todt Shootout

Litchfield 5 21 19 13 58

Lincolnwood 10 20 14 12 56

Litchfield (58) - Victor McGill 16, Keenan Powell 14, Tate Dobrinich 12, Clayton Bishop 5, Carson Saathoff 4, Bryce Hires 4, AJ Odle 3. Totals: 23 6-12 58.

Lincolnwood (56) - Will Jenkins 17, Braden Whalen 15, Jonah Elvidge 13, Gabe Armentrout 8, Brady Schmedeke 2. Totals: 13 25-31 56.

Three-point field goals: Litchfield 8 (McGill 2, Dobrinich 2, Powell 2, Bishop 1, Odle 1); Lincolnwood 5 (

Records: Litchfield (3-4), Lincolnwood (2-6).

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