CHILLICOTHE – A Southeastern team which won only one of its first eleven games while battling through injuries and suspensions finally took the court in full force this past Tuesday night. The Panthers knocked off a very good Piketon team that night and on Friday night made it two in a row beating Paint Valley 58-49 to avenge an early season loss.
“I thought Tuesday we played really well,” said Southeastern coach Larry Jordan. “We shot it well and defended well, and overall, just got a good team win. Tonight, we just seemed to go through the motions a little too much. We didn’t shoot it well and just didn’t have the same intensity. With that said, it was good to get a win and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Both teams struggled to score early as after nearly five minutes of play Paint Valley held a 3-2 advantage. Southeastern then found an offensive spark from its perimeter. The Panthers scored the game’s next 14 points sparked by eight of Kevin Dunn’s 20 points during that stretch. A Kenny Corcoran triple and a Kyle Prater field goal also keyed the run.
With Paint Valley on the verge of letting things get a way early, the Bearcats got a lift from Jordan McCleland. The junior forward, who had 5 points and 11 rebounds on the night, helped limit Southeastern second-chance points and eventually the PV aggressiveness gave the Bearcats a chance to get to the free throw line. Paint Valley capitalized at the charity stripe getting a pair of free throws from Ben McKell, Josh Long, Matt Workman, and then A.J. Knisley to cut what at one-point was a 13-point SE advantage to just 24-20 at halftime.
“I am extremely happy with the way we shot the ball at the free throw line,” said Paint Valley head coach Harold Bates when speaking of his team’s 15-18 shooting performance from the line. “If we can continue to do that throughout the year we will be fine.”
The momentum stayed with the Bearcats to start the second half. Even though Paint Valley did turn it over 25 times on the night, the Bearcats did play error-free for the first four minutes of the third period – a period in which PV shot 43-percent from the floor – and were able to enjoy a couple of leads on the strength of two free throws and a field goal from Long.
“We struggled in the first quarter to get into any flow at all,” said Coach Bates. “We finally got some things working in the third quarter, but then got sloppy at times in the fourth quarter. The thing I am happy with is how hard the kids continued to play all night. I thought our guys never stopped competing in the late going even when things started to get away from us.”
Southeastern got a strong finish to the quarter from Logan Clark. Clark, a senior, playing only in his second game of the year scored four of his 11 points in the final three minutes of the period to give SE a 36-35 advantage at the end of three.
A McKell three-pointer did tie the game at 38-38, but when two Dunn free throws put Southeastern back up two, Paint Valley would never get any closer. The Panthers finally put the game away on the strength of Josh Monroe. The 6-7 junior spent most of the night on the bench in foul trouble, but in the fourth quarter he was able to impact the game on the glass.
Monroe first stretched a four-point lead to seven with an offensive rebound and an old fashion three. Monroe then secured a defensive rebound on the next possession as he drew an over-the-back foul and went back to the line to extend the Panther lead.
“We are starting to show some signs offensively,” said Jordan. “With Josh inside we play four guards and when he is out we pretty much go five guards. We are going to have to work a little harder on the boards, but I do think we are going to present some tough match-ups for some teams down the road.”
Workman led Paint Valley with 20 points. The junior small forward was the only Bearcat in double-figures. Paint Valley has a busy week coming up as they play Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday next week with match-ups against Peebles, Westfall, and Lynchburg-Clay.
Southeastern got great balance led by Dunn with 20, Corcoran 12, and Clark with 11. The Panthers will try to make it three in a row when they travel to Huntington next Friday night. The Huntsmen lost for the first time on Friday at Zane Trace thanks to 21 points form Kirk Maxwell.
In the other Scioto Valley Conference games it was Piketon beating Unioto 66-38 to move within one game of Huntington, and Westfall defeated Adena 74-57.