The Lenoir City High School Panthers basketball team (5-10, 0-4 District 4-3A) fell short of completing a season sweep over the Knoxville Halls High School Red Devils in a 70-49 loss Friday on the road.
“One, it’s always a tough game going right into after Christmas, trying to give the guys a break because we played the Christmas tournament, so you want to give them a couple of days off,” Brent Burns, LCHS head boys basketball coach, said. “It’s always an interesting game the first game back from Christmas no matter what, so we knew it was going to be a tough game.
“We played them twice within two weeks ... they had a lot of guys that made shots that didn’t necessarily make shots the first game,” he added. “We were a little bit cold, and we just didn’t play very good defense, but we competed and the effort was there. It’s just one of those games you kind of move on from. We split with Halls, so we’ve just got to work on getting better on the defensive side of the ball.”
LCHS junior guard Scory Correa said the team struggled to find a rhythm in large part due to the break.
“We just came out really slow and sloppy, and a game like that comes from the lack of practice,” he said. “Prior, it was like a 15-point game and then we came in and lost this one. I feel like it’s a tough loss. I feel like we didn’t really come in prepared. The week prior, I feel like we lacked in the practice. I know there was the holidays going on.”
The Panthers are off to a similar start as last season with five wins heading into January, but junior David Ross believes the team is beginning to come together and performing better compared to this point last year.
“I think that we’re definitely doing good, and it can only get better as the season goes on because we’ve just been improving as a team overall,” Ross said. “Oh yeah, it’s definitely different with all the seniors that left last year, so it’s just our job to lead the team.”
“I feel like we’ve come along way, especially since summer,” Correa added. “We’re starting to get more into district play instead of those schedule filler-type games, and, of course, our district in 3A, it’s tough. ... We’ve got to prepare this whole week, and we’ve just got to build up the chemistry and come out with a strong mentality.”
The Panthers’ next game will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against the Farragut High School Admirals.
“Now we’re back into the second part of the season ... we’ve still got Farragut and Hardin Valley and Maryville to play, so we’re at the halfway point,” Burns said. “I’ve seen some box scores and been watching some film against some other teams — they’re athletic, they’ve got a really good shooter, they’re quick, they’ve got a guy that’s moved in from the Houston area. They started out the season really well, I think they started out 7-1 or 8-1. Since then, they’ve lost some games and played some good competition and some tough teams. It’ll be a good challenge coming out Friday night, and we’re looking forward to it. Hopefully, I’ll have the team ready and we’ll get a district win.”