Panthers balanced attack too much for Eagles

January 15, 2022 | 12:03 am

Updated January 15, 2022 | 12:14 am

The Daviess County boys basketball program used a balanced attack, with four players reaching double digits in scoring to defeat visiting Apollo on Friday night. With four of their five threes falling in the first half, the Panthers were able to stretch the floor and capitalize with their size advantage.  

The Panthers (5-9) leaned heavily on their guard play, with Max Dees leading the way with 13 points, while Gage Phelps and Isaiah Tomes each followed with 11, respectively. That perimeter production opened up things for consistent big man Cole Burch, affording him 10 points of his own. 

“We wanted our guys to have some freedom of play in there tonight,” said Daviess County head coach Neil Hayden. “Our guards did a phenomenal job of pushing the ball in transition and finding the open man. If we can make shots like that, it really opens things up for us.”

It was a back-and-forth bout for much of the first quarter, resulting in a 15-13 score in favor of Daviess County after one. The Eagles leaned heavily on Jaden Kelly for most of the game, as was evident with his 10-point first quarter. 

Kelly was the only Eagle to reach double figures, finishing the evening with 25 points and a perfect 10 out of 10 from the charity stripe. He also recorded three of Apollo’s five treys, while Eli Masterson followed him in point production with eight.

“We knew we had to stay in front of him, hopefully making him have to pass or take a tough two,” said Hayden referencing Kelly.

Daviess County cranked up the intensity in the second quarter, outpacing the Eagles 23-12. A transition attack, often propelled by quick passing and guys selflessly running the floor, gave the Panthers all of the momentum heading into the intermission. 

Kelly was determined to keep his Eagles in it, often hitting tough shots and grabbing garbage buckets when the Panthers shifted their defensive focus to him. He entered the dressing room with 15 of his team’s 25 points. 

That production warranted even more defensive adjustments by the Panthers, holding him scoreless in the third.

The rim seemed to have a lid on it for most of the third quarter as Daviess County outscored Apollo 9-6 to make it 47-31 entering the final frame. 

Despite a 10-point performance from Kelly and a series of momentum swings in Apollo’s favor, the Panthers were able to hang on for a 58-45 win. Apollo cut the game to single digits on numerous occasions in the fourth, but the Panthers continued to find answers unselfishly. 

Apollo will return to action at home against Edmonson County with a scheduled start time of 7:30, while Daviess will play host to Trigg County at 1:30 p.m.  Game times are tentative and subject to change, pending the weather forecast. 

“We’re going to continue to embrace the next-game mentality,” Hayden said. “Hopefully, we can continue to build on the wins. I think we are starting to find a rhythm, which is key with some big district games ahead of us.”

January 15, 2022 | 12:03 am

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