Twin Valley South’s boys nearly pulled one out against Valley View on Saturday. But the shorthanded Panthers came up just shy of the Spartans, 50-47.
“I thought, like the first weekend, we competed very well. We followed the gameplan well,” said South head coach Tony Augspurger. “We’re just awfully small, and our offensive firepower is limited with the guys that are out.”
The Panthers got into an early hole as the Spartans took a 17-10 lead after the first quarter. From there, South won the final three quarters, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the seven-point difference. The cut the Valley View lead to 29-24 by the half and 40-36 heading into the final quarter. South won the fourth, 11-10, but the Spartans still had the three-point advantage.
“Valley View shot well, better than I expected,” Augspurger said. “We had plans on defense, the three is the enemy. But when teams get a multitude of guys making shots, it makes it harder.”
Augspurger said the Panther defense wasn’t bad, but his team didn’t rebound well in the second half.
“I was proud of the effort,” Augspurger said. “It’s just too bad we couldn’t get the win.”
The Panthers got a huge game from Seth Baker, who put up 26 points and 14 rebounds, setting personal career-high marks in both categories.
“He drove better and went stronger inside than what he’s been doing,” Augspurger said. “He did struggle shooting from the outside. He’s not been as good as we believe he can be.”
Two players out because of injury are Troy Innis and Zane Cottingim. Augspurger said the team will have to do without Cottingim for the year, and Innis will be back at earliest in January, but he’s still up in the air.
J.J. Utz finished the Valley View game with seven points and six assists. Jordan Burns and Jake Osborn each had six points. Burns also had four steals, and Jacob Bassler scored two points.
Overall, the Panthers are looking for just enough improvement to get them over the hump.
“We’ve not shot the ball well, and that’s certainly something that’s hurt us,” Augspurger said. “Our firepower is down, and when it’s down, you really have to do a good job defensively. We haven’t been quite good enough to get it done.”
This week, the Panthers had a trip to Covington scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 10, and they’ll be on the road at Bethel on Friday, both crucial Cross County Conference games that will say a lot about where South will sit in the standings.