Cavaliers drop conference contest to Pana
By Jackson Wilson
Inconsistent play continues to be a massive thorn in Carlinville’s side.
On Friday, the Cavies hosted the Pana Panthers at the Big House on West Main and suffered a 51-38 conference defeat for their seventh consecutive loss.
At the start, a new sign of hope was in the air. For the first time in the last three games, the Cavaliers were able to avoid an early double digit hole in the opening minutes. Pana started on a 12-6 run, but a massive scoring drought allowed Carlinville to pull within one point at the 3:44 mark of the second quarter. Panther head coach Adam Metzger called a timeout, but the struggles continued for his offense. With just over two minutes left in the half, Carlinville’s Will Walton fouled Wesley Kile on a three point attempt. Kile only converted one free throw, but broke the ice and gave Pana it’s first tally since his drained three pointer in the closing minute of the first. Despite getting opportunities to pull ahead, the Cavaliers were unable get the job done. The Panthers’ defense forced two crucial turnovers that both resulted in easy layups. Briley Roper attempted to avenge one of those miscues, but was met by Kile at the basket in the closing seconds. Pana took a 20-14 lead to halftime.
The Panthers came out of the locker room with restored energy and confidence, which spelled bad news for the Cavies. Behind back-to-back downtown daggers from 13-point leading scorer Brevin Blackwell, Pana exploded for a momentum-crushing 17-7 run – something that was all too familiar for Carlinville throughout the early portion of the season.
“We didn’t match their intensity. They came out and played really hard in the third,” Carlinville head coach Alan Cooper said of Pana. “We didn’t pick up the intensity, but they picked it up for a good five minute stretch there. They forced turnovers and got easy buckets and we really didn’t do anything to stop that.”
The Cavaliers finished strong in the fourth quarter. Roper hit three jumpers, including two threes and sparked a rally that trimmed a 37-21 deficit to 47-38 with two minutes remaining. Roper led all scorers with 14 total points in the losing effort.
“Briley is starting to play pretty well and we need that. We need some confidence and I thought that last group of five that was on the floor played hard and that’s what we need to find,” stated Cooper.
Pana improves to 3-4 overall and 2-0 in conference play with the win. Carlinville drops to 0-7 with the loss. The Cavaliers will take on the Wildcats of Mt. Olive in the opening round of the 48th annual Carlinville Holiday Tournament on Dec. 26. Game time is 1:30 p.m. Due to an expanded boys’ field, bracket play will be used instead of the traditional pool play format. Future rounds and matchups have yet to be determined.
Carlinville’s Briley Roper runs up the court during the fourth quarter of Friday’s game against Pana. Roper led the Cavies with 14 points in a 51-38 loss. Photo by Jackson Wilson.