The Litchfield Purple Panthers knew coming into this season they would have several hurdles to get through, one being an inexperienced lineup.
A two-week set back would not help matters out, as most teams would have several games under their belt before the Panthers would hit the hardwood.
Litchfield’s opponent on Monday night, the Vandalia Vandals, would be one of those teams as the Vandals would enter the contest with eight games played, seven more than the visiting Panthers.The Vandals would not play down to the Panthers as they would walk away with a 58-24 victory.
After the Vandals took a quick 3-0 lead, the Panthers would get baskets from Bryce Hires and Jordan Harris to grab their first lead of the contest at 4-3. The two early baskets would be the only points the Panthers would put on the board as the Vandals would hold them scoreless throughout the remaining minutes of the quarter.
Vandalia would make up for the lack of points by Litchfield as the Vandals tallied 18 straight points, building a 21-4 lead after the first quarter.
The 18-0 Vandal run would carry over to the second quarter as they would add the first four points of the second quarter. Bryce Hires would add his second basket of the contest, ending the Vandals run.
Even though the Panthers would be trailing 25-6 after Hires’ basket, Litchfield would never give up. The Panthers would grab eight more points in the quarter as Carson Saathoff added three points and his freshman teammate, Keenan Powell, recorded five points, including a big three-point basket.
The Vandals, though, would control a 37-14 halftime lead. Powell’s five points in the quarter would lead all Panthers in the scoring column at the half.
Vandalia’s experience would continue to give the young Panthers fits in the third quarter. The Vandals would outscore the Panthers 17-4 in the third frame, controlling a 54-18 lead after three quarters. Litchfield would get help from Carson Saathoff and Bryce Hires in the quarter as the two would combine for the four points.
In the final frame, the Panthers would grab a positive note as they would outscore the Vandals 6-4. Four of the six points would come from the charity stripe, with the biggest points coming from senior Will Carlile.
Carlile, who made LHS history exactly one year before, winning the first state championship in wrestling for Litchfield High School, would score his first varsity points as he netted two free throws. Carlile would grab another basket in the quarter as he would end the contest with four points.
The Vandals would control the contest from the opening possession and walk away with a 58-24 victory. The win would move them to 2-7 overall and 1-1 in the South Central Conference, while the Panthers would drop to 0-2 overall and 0-2 in the SCC.
Bryce Hires led the Panthers in the scoring column with six total points, with Carson Saathoff and Keenan Powell following with five points apiece.
Even though the Panthers would struggle to put points on the board they would have seven players score and would attempt 42 shots, five fewer than the victorious Vandals.
Even though the scoreboard does not show it, the young Panthers are taking steps to becoming an experienced squad.
February 22 at Vandalia
Litchfield 4 10 4 6 24
Vandalia 21 16 17 4 58
Litchfield (24) - Bryce Hires 6, Carson Saathoff 5, Keenan Powell 5, Will Carlile 4, Jordan Harris 2, Jace Stewart, Chase Hires 1. Totals: 7 9-14 24.
Vandalia (58) - Carson Ruot 17, Case Goldsmith 11, Chase Laack 10, Cole Tarkington 9, Mitchell Casey 8, Gaige Beall 3, Matthew Hagy 2. Totals: 25 9-17 60.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 1 (Powell 1); Vandalia 1 (Casey 1).
Records: Litchfield (0-2, 0-2); Vandalia (2-7, 1-1).