BY ALEX GRUBERMAN
O’FALLON – The Panthers have seemed to hit a snag late in the season, and their troubles continued as they lost 74-63 against Belleville East Friday night.
At the start of the tip off, both teams were eager to get on the board quickly and shots were all over the place. Rebounding and second chance points were big early in the first quarter. As the quarter quickly ran down, the Panthers made a quick surge and cut the deficit down to an 18-15 lead for the Lancers. In the second quarter, both teams were evenly matched, each scoring 16 points. Heading into halftime, the Panthers still trailed Belleville East by three. Coach Muniz believed that his squad could overcome that three-point lead, and was happy with the way the team started the first half out.
However, the Panthers had a rough time coming out of halftime. Belleville East found their three-point shooting as senior Javon Pickett found his sweet spot time and time again. The Panthers defense allowed 20 points in the third quarter to the Lancers, while Belleville East held the Panthers to only 12 points in the third. Coach Muniz must have said something to his team after the third period, because it seemed like a whole new team out on the court in the fourth period. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the Lancers continued their hot streak in the fourth period too. Both teams ended up scoring 20 points in the fourth period, but it wasn’t enough for the Panthers to overcome the Lancers’ double digit lead.
Belleville East defeated the Panthers by a final score of 74-63. Senior Javon Pickett finished the night with 24 points for Belleville East. With another loss, the Panthers fall to 4-6 in conference play and an overall record of 13-10, putting the Panthers in sixth place in the Southwestern Basketball standings.
The Panthers have a busy week ahead of them as they square off against 1-16 Granite City Warriors, who haven’t won a conference game yet this season, at home on Valentine’s Day and then will go to face the 15-7 East St. Louis to take on the Flyers on February 17.