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Panthers roar to a 68-49 win Friday

(PANA) — Pana’s Kyle Kuhn, number 15, goes up strong for a basket in the game with Litchfield on Friday night in the Pana High School gym. Kuhn scored 6 points and had 9 rebounds in Pana’s dominating 68-49 win, their first South Central Conference win of the season.

(Cathy Jones Photo)

Tom Latonis
Breeze-Courier Writer

(PANA) — The last boys home basketball game prior to Christmas break in the Pana High School gym is traditionally called the “Silent Night” game. That’s where fans do not cheer for the Panthers until they make their first basket, then everyone goes wild. It took all of 14 seconds of silence before the Panthers made their first basket and Pana went wild on the Litchfield Purple Panthers, taking their first South Central Conference game of the season, 68-49.

“Absolute domination, absolute domination,” Pana head Basketball Coach Adam Metzger repeated. “We did exactly what we needed to do. Held them to 12 first half points. It’s 48 to 12 at half. Came out in the third quarter and put them away by 40-plus.”

Pana was at a disadvantage because they had a 10-day pause in ten activities due to COVID-19. They had one day of practice before facing Litchfield.

“It was 10 days we didn’t have four starters, multiple bench guys,” Metzger recalls. “That’s just them. They bring it. I don’t have to say, ‘Are you up for the game? Are you ready?’ Because that’s all they know. That’s the expectation here and they are a huge part of that expectation.”

Up 20-6 going into the second quarter, Litchfield scored the first basket of the period before Pana went on a 21-2 run to take control of the game, 41-10. After a pair of free throws from McGill stopped the bleeding at the 2:35 mark, Pana scored the final 7 points of the half, ending on a 3-pointer from Evan Hudlin. It was 48-12 at halftime.

Pana’s dominance continued into the third quarter as the lead grew to 60-18 with 3:04 left in the third as Colin Schmitz made a steal and went in for a lay-up. This was the point in the game where Metzger started calling off the Panthers and the bench players got a chance at some varsity action.

“We were able to get some of the other guys in their and work on some things,” the coach said. “You know, the Litchfield starters were still in there, pressing the whole game and that’s great for our guys to improve up on, kind of see different areas we as coaches need to work on.”

As a whole, Metzger felt it was a total team effort – just like his staff preaches.

“Defensively, I thought (Brenden) Schoonover did a a great job on McGill. But we are so unselfish with the ball running. But it helps when you got all the guys on the floor doing what they are supposed to. I thought (Kyle) Kuhn rebounded extremely well. (Devon) Peebles is always sharing the ball, attacking. (Colin) Schmitz is hitting his shots. Max Lynch has maybe the most exciting play of the night. He doesn’t get the pass on the three, then he crashes the boards and lays it in. It was fun to have Evan Hudlin back tonight. He’s been out for a weeks upon weeks and able to hit a couple of shots and it was Ethan Hicks first game and he hit a three. All around, just proud of the guys.”

Colin Schmitz led Pana in scoring with 18 points and Devon Peebles had 13. Brenden Schoonover scored 12 points. Kyle Kuhn and Evan Hudlin each added 6 points and Ethan Hicks finished with 3. Max Lynch and Brant Bowker rounded out the scoring with 2 points apiece.

Pana dominated the boards with a whooping 46-19 advantage. Peebles got a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Kuhn hauled in 9 caroms and Lynch got 6.
At the free throw line, Pana sank 10-of-12, 83% while Litchfield went 7-of-11, 64%.

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