Panthers hold off late charge from Bulldogs

Published 11:28 am Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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The Carl R. Green Gymnasium wasn’t packed to the rafters due to COVID-19 regulations but the few parents and others that found their way in witnessed a classic game between two rivals with the Panthers winning 65-63.

It was a boys only game tonight due to COVID-19 tracing but it was a typical, well played basketball game as usual; a throw out the records and enjoy kind of contest.

Jake Templin and Jaden Schertz started filling the basket early and the new look Panthers led the game at the half and looked to be on the way to blowing out their rival.

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Claiborne came out of the halftime break and shot the ball well especially from behind the arc. Their three pointers and tough defense allowed them to get right back in the game and eventually their efforts got them a late lead.

However, the Panthers have bought into the Ryan Whitaker system and stayed the course. With under 10 seconds left in a tie game the Panthers quickly ran the floor and found Templin in perfect position for an entry pass in the paint. He turned and dropped the go ahead shot in the basket.

The Bulldogs had one more chance to tie or win as they in-bounded the ball with under three seconds left and got a decent look at a long shot that just missed it’s target to the right. The game ended with the Panthers fan base celebrating behind the bench. The final score was 65-63.

After the game had ended Coach Whitaker spoke about the rivalry game, “Ever since I took the job that was one of the things my administration and the kids told me. The Claiborne game is like the superbowl. I’m saddened in the fact that we didn’t get the full experience with fans not being here and no cheerleaders or girl’s game but it was a heck of a game. They shot the heck out of the ball and it was nothing less than I expected.”

Whitaker also spoke about his team’s success in the opening half and second half struggles, “I believe they got a lead and felt like they could just cruise but we are not at that level yet. That’s why Claiborne had a chance to come back and take the lead. Luckily, we didn’t quit and we continued to fight and found a way to win.”

Leading the Panthers in scoring was Templin with 27, Schertz had 19, two others recorded five each including Lance Owens and Dylan Ellison. Elijah Lawson had four, Clint Crockett had three and Jon Graves finished with two.

Claiborne was led by Ethan Cupp with 14, Levi Peoples had 11 along with Landen Wilson and Tommy Hicks. Seth Morelock had seven and two others had three points including Cooper Sams and Jimmy Del Ervin.

Cumberland Gap led by six at the half, 25-31.

The Bulldogs hit seven three’s and outscored the Panthers 21-12 during the third period but a 22-17 fourth period ensured the visitors the thrilling victory.


Video: The last few seconds of the big rivalry game, Templin lays in the go ahead points. Claiborne’s final shot just misses the mark.

Video and photo by Allen Earl