Pinckneyville ends season with loss
Panthers fall behind early, lose to BCC, 69-61, finish fourth in 2A

PEORIA – Not being able to hit shots in the early going of their game against Bloomington Central Catholic, the Pinckneyville Panthers dug themselves a hole they couldn't get out of.

Despite a big second half rally, the Panthers dropped a 69-61 decision to the Saints in the 2A third place game Saturday night at Carver Arena.

The Panthers began the game by hitting just 7-of-22 shots in the first half as they trailed 35-20 at intermission.

They ended up just 22-of-48 overall.

Although Coach Bob Waggoner's team rallied to make it close late in the game, their 2017-18 season ended on a sour note at 31-5.

Senior guard Grant Jausel closed out his prep career by leading the Panthers with 16-points while sophomore Dawson Yates added 12.

Senior Kyle Luke also played his final game in a Panthers' uniform, scoring 13.

“I've got five guys up that are like my sons, I love them to death. We've been together for four years, been through this. Today was the first day that we've known this was the end, so the game really doesn't matter,” said Coach Waggoner. “It's about the growth and maturity of these guys and our relationship and my ability to be a part of their lives and their ability to be important to my life and how much we love each other.”

Bloomington Central Catholic was much better from the floor, connecting on 25-of-42 field goal attempts (59.5 percent) including 13-of-23 to open the game and close the first half.

Six-foot senior guard Austyn Ellison tossed in a game-high 22-points for Coach Jason Welch as his team finished its season at 26-7.

Senior guard Elijah Davis added 15-points for the Saints.

Jack Gilmore added 10-points for BCC.

The Saints, like Pinckneyville, are a historically great basketball program having won 26 regional championships, six sectional titles and five supersectionals.

They beat Nashville in triple overtime for their lone state title back in 2013-14.

Saturday night BCC added a third place trophy to the shelf as they took control early in the contest.

“I'm just really proud of these guys, they worked extremely hard, the guys off of the bench did a great job. We gave them a challenge, (the) seniors … I told them,” said Coach Welch. “The deal is this, when this game is over, you're going to give me your jersey. You don't get it back, that jersey is mine. How's it going to look when you're done? You going to come out fighting or are you just going to give it away?' They came out fighting tonight.”

Pinckneyville jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind a early steal and fast break score from Yates and a pair of free throws by Jausel.

A score by Luke on a drive to the goal produced the Panthers' final lead of the game at 6-4 with 5:21 left.

Bloomington Central Catholic's Patrick Rahuba scored eight-points in the game with six of the markers coming on a pair of conventional three-point plays in the opening stanza.

Both times he drove to the basket and was fouled.

These two plays were sandwiched around a bucket by teammate Tommy Nelson for a 12-6 lead.

After Pinckneyville senior Tyler Rice scored in the lane on an assist by Luke, Davis closed the book on the first quarter with a score from the right wing to end the scoring at 14-8.

Davis added eight more points in the second quarter, beginning the frame with a 3-point bomb from the right wing.

Ellison cashed in a pair of 3-pointers during a streak where the Saints expanded their lead to double-digits.

When Davis scored on a drive to the paint on a short jumper, BCC were up 33-18 with 1:05 until halftime.

Two free throws by Tanner Spihlmann for the Panthers got them closer, but a rebound basket by BCC junior Luke Yoder, where he grabbed the board and then quickly drove under the basket for a reverse lay in just before the horn.

His scored made it 35-20 at the break.

“Those boys have been through battles before, they've played all over the state of Illinois in a lot of different atmospheres,” said Coach Welch. “We've got a lot of seniors up here, and today, that senior leadership really paid off.”

The Panthers kept pace with the Saints in the third quarter, setting themselves up for a potential fourth quarter rally.

Yates scored six-points on a drive to the basket for a three-point play and the sophomore guard tossed home a 3-pointer.

Jausel also put home six-points as Coach Waggoner's team trailed just 52-40 heading to the final quarter of the season for both teams.

Luke hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to start the fourth and then scored on a cut to the basket with an assist from senior guard JC Moll.

Moll, later in the fourth, nailed two foul shots and then hit his only 3-pointer got the Panthers to within 56-52.

However, on the next trip down the floor, Ellison answered with a 3-point bomb.

The last hurrah from the Panthers came on consecutive 3-point bombs from Yates and Spihlmann, both from the right side of the floor.

When the 6-foot-6 Spihlmann connected from the right corner, the Panthers led just 62-59 with 2:02 left.

Forced to press late in the game, Pinckneyville gave up an easy score to Nelson on a cut to the basket.

Jausel scored on a drive to the basket at the 1:23 mark, closing the Panthers' point producing.

BCC's James Morris hit 1-of-2 from the line and Ellison added 2-of-4 from the stripe.

Pinckneyville closed out its fantastic season out with three straight missed field goal attempts.

The Saint got a score with :10 left by Davis to claim third place honors.

“Our biggest fear wasn't losing, our biggest fear was letting down our community and our school and making sure we play the right way,” said Coach Waggoner. “It's important to be a Panther, it's important to be from Pinckneyville. It's important to our community, these kids grow up dreaming of being here. They fulfilled a dream that most people just dream about, they lived it today, they lived it this weekend. There was no way were going to go off that floor without giving everything we had.”

2A Third Place Game
Bloomington Central Catholic
Bloomington Central Catholic (69) – Gilmore 3 1 1-3 10, Nelson 4 0 1-2 9, Ellison 4 4 2-4 22, Yoder 1 0 2-2 4, Morris 0 0 1-2 1, Davis 3 2 3-4 15, Talbott 0 0 0-0 0, Rahuba 3 0 2-2 8, Kear 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-18, 3FG-7, FT-12-19, PF-18.

Pinckneyville (61)
– Luke 5 1 0-0 13, Rice 3 0 1-3 7, Moll 1 1 2-2 7, Yates 2 2 2-3 12, Jausel 4 2 2-2 16, Kreger 0 0 0-0 0, Clark 0 0 0-0 0, Tanner 0 0 0-0 0, Spihlmann 0 1 3-4 6, Bartnicki 0 0 0-0 0, Kitchen 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-15, 3FG-7, FT-10-14, PF-16

Fouled Out
– Luke - Pinckneyville.
Technical Fouls
– None.