It was definitely Friday the 13th for the Claiborne High School Bulldogs when the Cumberland Gap Panthers walked onto the court as everything seemed to spiral downhill rapidly.
Coming in as a cold shooting basketball team, the Panthers and their coaching staff were hoping to turn around shooting woes. Before the game Panthers Head Coach Ernie Mac Clawson spoke of the on and off shooting, “We have been struggling to shoot the ball well lately and if we can put the ball in the basket we should be fine.”
Conversely, Claiborne Head Coach Brian O’Dell knew of their shooting struggles and wanted to make their shots difficult. O’Dell stated, “We know that this team can shoot better than they have but we are going to pull out a two-three zone to make their shots more difficult.”
Both coaches had good game plans and one team was going to have to step up to defeat the other. During this January rivalry game it was the Panthers that had the poise to shoot themselves out of the slump.
The home team started this game with Jacob Runions leading the way by hitting two quick threes and getting the home crowd fired up. He finished the first period with eight of the Bulldogs’ 15 points. Preston England made sure the visiting Panthers didn’t get down early by dropping in five points and beginning a great night of shooting that infected the entire team. After one period of play the Panthers had surpassed the Bulldogs and led 21-15.
Trent Graves took over the second period as he led the Panthers to a 41-25 advantage at the half and the Bulldogs fans was already seeing the Panthers fill up the nets from both inside and outside.
Defense was the name of the game during the third period as the scoring was lowered to 14-8 but still in favor of the Panthers. The defense stayed alive during the final period as scoring stayed relatively low but the Bulldogs were on the lower end of the scoring as they dropped down only four points to the Panthers 19. A shocked Bulldogs crowd had seen the Panthers roll during a very convincing 74-37 victory.
Graves and his 13-point second period helped him to lead both teams in scoring as he dropped in 26. Nine other Panthers recorded scores with Jacob Bullins and England dropping in nine points each. Evan Jackson had a great effort with eight points and Bubba Lake finished with six. Dallas Griffith and Miles Cole both had four points. Jayson Upton and Dalton Miracle ended the game with three points. Rounding out the scoring was Kaleb Franklin with two points.
Claiborne was led in scoring by Runions with ten and Kade Beeler came off the bench for nine points. Elijah Beason and Hunter Rosenbalm finished with four. Andrew Coots and Houston Hatfield finished with three. Rounding out the Bulldogs scoring were Evan Ickes and Matthew Walker.
The gymnasium was packed to the rim with fans from both schools but it was the Panthers that took home the bragging rights for now. Clawson had his team ready to go and on this night they shot the ball efficiently. With the win the Panthers now have an 8-5 overall record.
Reach Allen Earl at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @pitchadude.