The win wasn’t as easy as some might have thought as the Panthers and Wildcats clawed and scrapped for four quarters with the Panthers eking out a 60-59 victory.
“Anytime you play a game, especially a district game, you can throw all the records out, cause it’s usually going to be a good game, especially when Franklin and Russellville play,” RHS head coach Dennis Pardue said. “To be quite honest I don’t think we deserved to win, they got off the bus and they wanted it more than we did up until the two minute mark.”
In the first half the Panthers jumped out to an early 8-2 lead. Before this year, the Wildcats were a slow, grind it out team, but with the new coach came a new style of play. The Wildcats and Panthers raced up and down the courting the first quarter but the Panthers held a 16-10 lead after one quarter and it seemed that the pace favored the Panthers who were indoctrinated into that fast pace from day one. In the second quarter, the Wildcats changed the speed and slowed the Panthers down and frustrated them in the half court game that the Wildcats wanted to force. They went into the break only up 32-31.
The Panthers then came out in the third quarter and were as flat as they have ever been. The Wildcats went on a 13-0 run to take a 44-32 lead and the Panthers were scrambling for answers.
“We had a come to Jesus moment at half time and I think most of them were still at the alter when the second half started,” coach Pardue said.
But with four minutes left in the third quarter the Panthers seemed to rouse from their halftime swoon and struck back with a 8-0 run to cut the lead to 44-40.
The two teams would trade blow after blow all the way down to less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. With a little over three seconds left in the game, RHS’ Davis Pardue was fouled and sent to the line for free throws. The Panthers were down 59-58 so desperately needed the free throws.
“Once he got it going to the basket we felt like it was a pretty good thing that he could get off a shot,” coach Pardue said. “Thank God they fouled Davis when they did.”
Davis Pardue has been deadly from the charity stripe, but has had his struggles recently. The two free throws, though, swished through as if they were practice free throws and not the clutch free throws they were and gave the Panthers the 60-59 lead.
But the excitement wasn’t through. Franklin ran a perfect in bound play to give the ball to one of their quickest players. Franklin-Simpson got an extremely good look at the basket before it rattled out and the Panthers held on for the 60-59 victory.
“He got a pretty good look at the basket, thank goodness it didn’t go in,” coach Pardue said.
Jordan Kennedy led the Panthers with 18 points. Davis Pardue added 17 points and Derion Calloway tossed in eight points in the win.
The Panthers were scheduled to play at Cumberland County on Monday night and with a win they will play at Monroe County on Thursday night.
“As coaches we thought we needed to practice, but I asked the kids ‘Are you satisfied at where your at or do we need to practice?’ and they said ‘We need to practice,’” coach Pardue said