Well Tuesday night they got to see what it was going to be like to face a top tier team in the state when they welcomed Muhlenberg County to Jim Young Gymnasium to kick off the new season.
For two quarters the new look Panthers traded blows with the Mustangs and were within striking distance of pulling off an early season upset over a ranked team.
But the Mustangs came out on fire in the second half and put the Panthers away 87-58.
“In the first half we played okay, we battled okay,” RHS head coach Dennis Pardue said. “In the second half we didn’t show very much heart, and we didn’t show a whole lot of effort.”
Russellville and the Mustangs traded baskets all throughout the first quarter as both team’s poked and prodded each other’s weaknesses. At the end of the first quarter it was 16-15 Muhlenberg but that was as close as the Panthers would get. Turnovers would be the bane of the Panthers as they coughed up the ball nine times in the first half that killed all the rallies they had.
“I think it was more with us, then them” coach Pardue said about the turnovers.
Going into halftime only trailing by six points the Panthers were looking to claw right back into the game. But Muhlenberg County came out and was lights out from behind the arc. Within minutes the six point lead ballooned to a 12 point lead and sent the Panther’s scrambling.
“We didn’t show a lot of heart, we got down and we just kind of took it,” coach Pardue said.
Sensing the knock out blow the Mustangs went on a devastating 14-2 run that blew the game wide open.
“They wanted it more than we did, and it showed,” RHS assistant coach T.C. Thomason said.
In the second half the Panthers turnover problems only got worse as they gave the ball up 11 more times and the Mustangs piled on the points outscoring the Panthers in the third quarter 29-12.
“Taking nothing away from them (Muhlenberg County), they’re a good team,” coach Pardue said. “We had a lot of people play very weak at times.”
As the night concluded and the dust settled the Panthers dropped the season opener 87-58.
Three Panthers managed to crack double digits in points. Davis Pardue led the team with 20 points, Dominique Harris and Darrion Quarles both contributed 10 points in the loss.
The Panthers go on the road Saturday night to face Butler County.
“A whole lot better change, if not we’re going to be 0-2 after the first week,” coach Pardue said. “Butler County is a much different team then they have been. It’s not your typical Butler team where you can count a ‘W’ anymore.”
They will try and change their fortunes to avoid an 0-2 hole to start the season. The Panthers haven’t started 0-2 since the 2005/2006 season.
In other action across Logan County, the Logan County Cougars started the season 0-1 with a 78-72 loss at Hopkinsville. The Lady Cougars also started the season 0-1 with a 47-36 loss at Warren Central.