Prairie Central vs. PBL

    Prairie Central entered Friday night’s home matchup with Paxton-Buckley-Loda with a lot of confidence. After beginning the season going 1-3 in the GCMS Thanksgiving tournament, the Hawks pulled out three straight victories.
    But, the Panthers snapped this win streak by edging the Hawks 52-49 in th nonconference boys' basketball game.
    “It was a tough one to swallow,” PC head coach Alan Dunahee said. “It was right there, we just didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”
    After being down by 12 at the end of the third quarter, the Hawks used an 8-0 run, capped by a Keegan Stein 3-pointer, to pull the score to within four, at 43-39, with 5:11 left to go in the game.
    The Panthers quickly responded with a trey of their own by Kyle Poll to give PBL a 46-39 lead.
    Before the play, however, junior guard Mason Ecker was ejected after picking up his second technical foul. This came after he received a flagrant foul. Ecker finished with a game-high 17 points.
    The Hawks used this as momentum, eventually taking the lead at 47-46 after another 8-0 run. A basket by Jake Crane followed by free throws from seniors Peyton Rigsby and Seth Reed helped spark the run. A 3 by Rigsby was what gave them the lead with 3:02 remaining.
    But PC just couldn’t capitalize down the stretch. After exchanging free throws, the Panthers took the lead at 51-49 when Drake Schrodt scored off of a turnover with 41 seconds left. Another turnover led to a Panther free throw by Austin Gooden, making it 52-49 with 25.4 seconds remaining. This score would hold as the Hawks missed two 3-pointers to end the game.
    “There were a couple big plays at the end that we didn’t execute and they did,” Dunahee said. “Our inexperience kind of showed tonight. We have some guys who don’t have a lot of varsity experience yet.”
    Prairie Central was forced to dig itselves out of a deep hole to start the game, as PBL got out to a 22-10 lead in the first quarter.
    The Hawks used a 11-2 run to cut the lead to 24-21 with 2:01 left in the first half. A basket by PBL’s Tyler Pichon just before the second-quarter buzzer brought the lead to 26-21 going into the break.
    “The guys started to get after it a little more during that run there in the second quarter,” Dunahee said. “But the intensity wasn’t there the whole game, and I think that was a big key.”
    This was highlighted a little coming out of the locker room for the second half, as the Panthers would outscore the Hawks 17-10 to give them that 43-31 lead heading into the final frame.
    Although PC outscored the Panthers 18-9 in the fourth quarter, their mistakes down the stretch led to the narrow defeat.
    Eddie Shumaker led the way with 14 points for the Hawks (4-4). Reed added 9, while Rigsby and Jake Bachtold had 8 points apiece. Jake Crane finished with 4 points, Stein had 3, Wyatt Steidinger added 2 and Noah Lewallen rounded out the scoring with 1 point.
    Outside of Ecker’s 17 points, the Panthers (4-1) received 13 points from Pichon and 11 points from Gooden.