Even on road Panthers prove title still runs through defending champions
Pine Grove played their first true road playoff game in over two years on Saturday. After sweeping through the first three rounds at home last year, the Panthers headed straight to the Big House en route to the state title.
A first round playoff victory over Riverside and the Sea of Red packed up and followed the boys to Calhoun City. Lo and behold, on the road for the first time since 20021 in the playoffs, the Panther faithful showed up in droves. A packed gym and a hostile environment awaited them, and the Wildcats of Calhoun City jumped out to a first quarter lead in a contest that was never farther apart than a single score at the end of any quarter.
The Panthers ultimately prevailed thanks to a combined effort from four Seniors: Jamas Cox carried the team early posting 11 points and 7 rebounds before halftime. Hayden Holcomb drilled a pair of third quarter three-pointers to slow the pouncing Wildcat defense. Jack Hudson played hero with 18 points, a chase down block with under a minute to play and the game winning three-pointer with under 2 seconds to play. And Keaton Wilkerson jumped passing lanes all night to the tune of four steals, fittingly ending the game with a defensive play to seal the win.
Pine Grove and their battled tested team proved that to be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.
The Panthers title defense continues on Wednesday as they take on Riverside at Mississippi Valley State.