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PAXTON – Paxton-Buckley-Loda gained a hot hand from beyond the arc Tuesday, Jan. 15, against Cissna Park.
The Panthers buried eight 3-pointers en route to a 32-22 lead late in the second quarter before a buzzer-beating bucket in the lane by the Timberwolves’ Tyler Schuldt made the score 32-24 at halftime.
The hot streak did not continue, however, as PBL was held to 20 points in the second half and three in overtime en route to a 60-57 Sangamon Valley Conference loss.
“When we came out, we were pretty fresh and were shooting the ball well, but when you’re shooting at that clip, you know it’s going to even out eventually,” PBL head coach Scot Vogel said. “We still had good looks. Some of them just didn’t fall in. It would have been nice to see one or two of them drop there in the overtime period or maybe even late in the fourth quarter, but I thought our guys battled hard. Cissna’s a really good team, and I thought we played right there with them the whole game. I think we’re showing a lot of improvement. I’m just really proud of the kids and how hard they competed and battled against that them.”
The Panthers (8-7, 1-3 SVC) took an early 16-6 lead with 2:39 remaining in the first quarter as Drew Schrodt made two 3-pointers and Axl Denault and Tyler Rubarts each drilled a shot from downtown.
Rubarts ended an 11-2 Cissna Park run that extended into the second quarter with a 3-pointer that put PBL on top 21-17. He would finish the first half with three 3-pointers and 11 of his game-total 14 points.
Schrodt made one more 3-pointer and Jay Eahleman had a trey as well before the halftime break. The Panthers, however, could only produce eight points in the third quarter as the Timberwolves, led by Alex Rabe’s seven points, went into the fourth quarter trailing 39-34.
After being held to three points during the first three quarters, Cole Hasselbring scored 14 in the fourth for Cissna Park (12-5, 3-1 SVC). He scored on a three-point play with 3:16 remaining in regulation to cut his team’s deficit to 50-48 as Denault picked up his fourth foul.
Hasselbring stepped back for a 3-pointer that cut PBL’s lead to 54-53 with 1:01 remaining before Beau Anderson forced Schrodt -- who scored eight of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter -- into a turnover via backcourt violation on the defensive end. Hasselbring made the front end of 1-of-2 free-throw attempts while Denault fouled out, tying the game at 54-54 with 27.1 left in regulation.
The Timberwolves picked up the offensive rebound, giving Hasselbring a chance at another trey to win the game in the final seconds. He missed, sending the game into overtime with the score of 54-54.
After Jeremy Walder – who finished the game with 11 points – scored the first two points of overtime via field goal for PBL, Anderson buried a 3-pointer to give Cissna Park a 57-56 lead. From there, the Timberwolves never trailed.
“They had a couple of seniors step up and hit some shots,” Vogel said. “Cole hit a big shot there for them and Beau Anderson did too. That’s just players making plays. Tonight, we just had a couple of bounces that didn’t go our way, but I thought that we showed a lot of improvement. We were pretty composed there for most of the game. We had a couple of situations there it will make for some valuable learning experience. We made some turnovers there in the fourth quarter. But I thought our kids battled hard.”
With less than 10 seconds left in overtime and PBL trailing 59-57, Johnny Walder had a chance to sink a go-ahead 3-pointer, but the shot missed.
“He’s only a freshman,” Vogel said. “That’s a tough spot. He had a great look at it. It just rolled in and out. We’ve got confidence in him. His teammates have confidence in him. That’s a shot that he can hit consistently. It takes a lot of guts to be in that situation, and the biggest thing is that he wasn’t scared to fail.”
Hasselbring rebounded Johnny Walder’s miss and was quickly fouled by Schrodt with 5.8 seconds remaining. As Hasselbring prepared for his first free-throw attempt, Eshleman waved his arms in an upward motion urging for noise from the PBL student cheering section, also known as the “Blue Crew.”
As the “Blue Crew” brought the noise, Hasselbring missed the first foul shot before making the second, giving PBL a chance to tie the game with another 3-point attempt. Rubarts missed the trey as time expired.
“Jay’s a heady player. He understands situations and things like that. It was a smart play by him,” Vogel said. “Jay gets it. He’s a competitor, and it was a smart play by him. I thought all our guys played pretty solid from start to finish. A bounce here or a bounce there, and it’s a different story. The biggest thing right now is we’ve got to make sure we continue to work hard and be consistent and do those little things right.”
The Panthers will be in Onarga Friday for another SVC matchup against Iroquois West. They will also face Judah Christian at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ve just got to make sure we continue to take steps forward,” Vogel said. “We’ve got to make sure we just learn from this game and then get ready to play Iroquois West on Friday and then Judah Christian on Saturday. I’m proud of these guys. I love them to death. I wouldn’t trade them for anybody in the world. We’re just going to keep improving game by game and keep doing the little things right and keep working.
“I think we’re starting to get some more balanced scoring there. I think the big thing is we’re starting to be more consistent in some areas. We’ve still got room to improve on certain things and we’ve got some areas we’ve got to improve on defensively and things like that, but we’re seeing growth. We’re seeing our team mature day by day and game by game and I think this will give our guys some good confidence moving forward and getting ready for the late January run and then, when February rolls around, really get ready to try and start peaking at the right time.”
Cissna Park 60, PBL 57
Josh Marquez 1-2-4, Beau Anderson 2-1-6, Devon Laubscher 0-0-0, Alex Rabe 7-1-17, Tyson Rogers 3-0-7, Jacob Marquez 1-0-2, Cole Hasselbring 3-8-15, Ben Jennings 1-2-4, Dan Nowaczyk 0-0-0, Tyler Schuldt 2-1-5. Totals
PBL (8-7, 1-3)
Vaughn Gentzler 0-0-0, Jay Eshleman 3-0-7, Tyler Rubarts 4-0-14, Axl Denault 2-0-5, Jeremy Walder 4-3-11, Drew Schrodt 6-2-18, Johnny Walder 0-2-2. Totals 19-10-57.
CISSNA PARK 13 13 11 15 6 — 60
PBL 18 16 8 12 3 — 57
3-pointers — Cissna Park 5 (Rabe 2, Anderson, Rogers, Hasselbring). PBL 9
(Schrodt 4, Rubarts 3, Eshleman, Denault).
PBL 39, Cissna Park 33
PBL -- 9-3