Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Sports Editor
TAYLORVILLE — The final meeting between Taylorville and Pana of the regular season was held on Saturday night in the THS West Gym. All three levels participated in the Route 29 Rivalry. The Panthers got the best of Taylorville winning 2 of the three games played. Pana took the first victory with a freshman win by a final score of 51-39. THS came back fighting in the exciting JV game. Tornadoes win 53- 47. Then, for the finale and the Coal Miners Trophy, the visiting Panthers took the Varsity game by a final score of 60-43.
Despite having the crowd on their side the Tornadoes struggled to keep up with the high flying electric Panthers.
“One of the keys to the game was matching the energy of the environment.” Pana Head Coach Adam Metzger said proudly. “I thought our guys did that exceptionally well.”
The home-court advantage was no where to be found with Panther seniors Brenden Schoonover and Colin Schmitz absolutely taking over. Schoonover had no problem getting through the Taylorville defense. He put on a show scoring 27 points.
“Schoonie is a magician at times. He is so fun to watch.” Metzger stated.
Schmitz made it to the line a total of ten times going 8-10 from free throw land. He scored a total of 17 points in the contest.
The defending Tornadoes went on a 10-2 run before halftime making the score at the half with Pana up 31- 22. It didn’t seem to matter though. After half Pana resumed their hold on the home team.
Taylorville just played an uncharacteristic amount of defense from the usually lock down style of play.
“We just couldn’t guard the guy in front of us. Plain and simple.” Tornadoes Head Coach Ryan Brown said.
Leading scorer for THS was senior Bryce Friedrich. But even he was somewhat shut down by Pana only scoring 12 total points. Junior Will Bitchenauer smacked 3 shots from three for a total of 9 and Freshman Drake Howard added 8 points. The seniors Dylan Brown, Kamren Heimsness and Luke Markwell combined for 14 points the the rival game.
Pana kept things going with junior Devon Peebles also contributing to the win with 8 points. Senior Kyle Kuhn and junior Max Lynch added a combined 8 points of their own.
The Panthers played an unrelenting style of play to defeat Taylorville.
“Sometimes you are the dog in the fight, some days your the milk bone and today we were the milk bone.” said Brown.
The Panthers took home the Coal Miners Trophy with a final score of 60-43.
One-thousand and seven (1007) spectators from all over the County filled the Dolph Stanley to the brim (per Principal Matt Hutchinson and Athletic Director Jason Hadley). The most THS coach has seen for a regular season basketball game in two years.
Both of coaches wanted to express their thanks to everyone for coming out on Saturday night.
Next up the Pana Panthers (23-3) will stay home on Tuesday to take on conference opponent Vandalia.
Taylorville (12-12) will march up to Lincoln to take on their conference foe Railsplitters tonight on Monday.