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Spring Hill Christmas Classic: Host Panthers look to learn from tournament losses

George Whitley

By George Whitley
Dec. 29, 2017 at 11:12 p.m.

Spring Hill's #15 drives to the basket during Friday's December 29, 2017 game against Mt. Vernon. (Les Hassell/News-Journal Photo)

Lessons learned could pay dividends down the road.

That could very well be the mantra Tim Ender uses with his young Spring Hill basketball team after it suffered consecutive Friday setbacks to Mount Vernon and Woodlands Christian.

The Panthers had made mincemeat of their first- and second-round opponents at the Spring Hill Christmas Classic on Wednesday and Thursday. But Friday proved to be a much different story as Class 3A state-ranked Mount Vernon nabbed a 66-55 decision and Woodlands Christian eked out a 61-58 overtime victory in the third-place game.

"My kids continue to work really hard and I think we'll find a way to get better from these two losses," Ender said. "We were just a little out of sync today and I think that showed. But I believe we'll continue to do things necessary to get better."

The Panthers saw a seven-point first quarter lead evaporate to eventual tournament champion Mount Vernon in the semifinals as 3:41 scoring drought resulted in a 9-0 Tiger run.

Spring Hill stumbled to the break down eight at 37-29 and never really recovered.

In the third-place match with Woodlands Christian, Tyler Caron got the show started with a 3-pointer just 14 seconds into play. The Panthers managed to keep the Warriors at bay much of the initial eight minutes and closed with a 5-0 surge.

Caron threw down a dunk at 1:32 and drained another extra-pointer on a nice drive and dish from Kiante Stoker for a 16-10 lead with 1:01 showing on the clock.

Woodlands Christian, a private school out of the Houston area, cut the lead to a bucket following consecutive scores from Nash Golaszewski to start the second quarter. Casey Mudoh made a good move to the basket at 5:17 and Exavier Hinton swished a turnaround at 3:09 as Spring Hill moved out to a 20-14 lead.

Kyren Miller rained in two of his six 3s to close the half and sandwiched that with a follow up score as the advantage doubled to a dozen at 28-16 with 1:35 to go. Caron converted an up-and-under layup, drew the foul and sank the free throw to close the half.

The Panthers, who went to the break with a 31-23 lead, came out for the third ice cold. This benefited the Warriors as Golaszewski bottomed out a trey at 4:05, while the Panthers went the first 5:18 of the period without a point.

Golaszewski, who finished game-high point with 27, was hard to defend as he slipped in five from beyond the arc. The go-ahead score midway of the third was short-lived, however, as Spring Hill got another Miller missile at 1:57 and a Hinton bucket in the waning moments.

The Panthers still nursed a 40-37 lead heading into the last eight minutes of regulation. Caron played string music from downtown to start the fourth and give Spring Hill a 43-37 margin. Hinton's bank shot at 5:23 made it 47-42. The tide turned when Golaszewski clanked in another three and Luke Mansfield did same at 3:30 for a 50-47 Warrior lead.

Bakari LaStrap ripped a jumper from 15 as the Warriors looked to put the game away at 52-47 with just over two minutes to play.

Caron, who wound up with 18 points, made good from just inside the circle at 1:54 to snap a three and a half minute dry spell. Caron's defense of a LaStrap drive down the lane set up Miller for a tying trey with 0:25 to go. Miller, who led the Panthers with 20 points, was able to can a half-dozen from outside the arc.

The Warriors promptly took command in the extra session as Emanuel Jones, on a give-and-go from Golaszewski, stretched the lead to 56-52 with 3:03 left. Miller punched the ticket on another 3-pointer as the Panthers inched back to within 55-56 at 2:46.

Jones, a beast on the boards much of the afternoon, followed up a LaStrap misfire with a critical putback basket to keep the margin at three points with the clock winding down.

Stoker, an unlikely long-range participant, smoothly ripped a 3-point effort from left of the circle to square things at 58-all with 2:13 showing in OT.

Woodlands Christian was able to drain the clock and worked itself into getting a game-winning trifecta from Golaszewski with only six seconds left.

(Follow George Whitley on Twitter: @GPigskinprof)



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