After suffering six consecutive losses to begin the season, the Lenoir City High School Panthers basketball team got back into the win column Thursday with a dominant 69-43 win over the Knoxville Halls High School Red Devils.
“They played well; obviously, we didn’t wake up until it was 10-1,” Brent Burns, LCHS boys head basketball coach, said. “We’ve got to get off to a better start. That’s two games in a row where we came out kind of sluggish, but they’re starting to understand how to fly around and make plays on defense and fire out and have a little bit of fun. That’s what makes this team successful is when we get out in transition and we can play good defense, that’s really what they’ve got to do.”
The Panthers jumped to a 34-17 lead at halftime and extended the lead to 21 by the end of the third quarter thanks to David Ross’ 18 points.
“I think all my teammates, they found me in the right spots,” he said. “I didn’t have to do too much by myself, it was really just a team effort. It definitely gets our confidence up because we were definitely in a slump, so this gets our confidence, gets us back going. I’m sure it’ll help us a lot.”
The Panthers followed up Friday with a 69-46 win over Oakdale High School on the road.
Ross led the team again with 23 points, while Scory Correa finished with 17.
“We came out and we played well, we pushed the tempo early,” Burns said. “Oakdale’s a good team, and they shoot the ball well. Just the way the game was kind of ran, it’s a smaller court up there, so pressing kind of has its advantage and we shot the ball well. We got some turnovers, and I think we were 11 of 20 from the three-point line. Ben (Halcomb) didn’t score, but he had seven assists and helped us a lot.”
Ross said the team is starting to peak at the right time, especially heading into the Christmas tournament Thursday at home.
“Well, I think it’s how we’re hanging out off the court, too,” he said. “We’re always hanging out, and then it shows on the court because we’re always bonding and we know each other’s moves. It helps us on the court that we’re so close. I think it’s Coach Burns and (Chris) Cool, they’re keeping our morales up and we know as players that we’re going to go through stages like that, we’ve just got to keep our heads up.”
The Lady Panthers split their games, falling 52-41 to Halls and defeating Oakdale 59-26.
Lenoir City trailed by two at halftime against Halls, but the Lady Red Devils pushed the tempo and took over the second half.
“I have to give (Halls) credit, they came out and made shots,” Tim Smith, LCHS girls head basketball coach, said. “They hit three or four threes in the fourth quarter, and then we had the foul trying to get it even. They didn’t miss their free throws and did what they had to do.”
Christa Angelos led the Lady Panthers with 10 points, but foul trouble proved a big issue down the stretch when starting point guard Madison Graves fouled out early in the fourth.
“(Graves) hit a three first thing but after that she was kind of down after that and we never recovered from it,” Smith said. “It kind of got her out of sync. She had a few calls early that were kind of questionable, and then she didn’t do a whole lot tonight, and I think that had a huge impact on her.”
The Lady Panthers’ next game is 6 p.m. Thursday at home against Sullivan South.