Panthers dominate WF
Pinckneyville preps for postseason with 74-36 win over Red Birds
WEST FRANKFORT – The state tournament is set to begin for 1A and 2A boy's high school basketball teams in the State of Illinois.

All teams want to head into the postseason playing their best basketball.

They want to “peak” at the right time.

After not playing their best basketball in Friday night in a win over Carterville that finished the regular season SIRR Mississippi Division for Pinckneyville.

The Panthers ended up 10-0 in the league, however their 43-40 win over the Lions wasn't impressive.

Less than 24-hours later the coaching staff of the Panthers let the players know that it was time to refocus on the ultimate goal of getting to the state finals.

Coach Bob Waggoner saw his club respond with a “tsunami-type” wave of dominance in their 74-36 victory at West Frankfort on Saturday night.

If the demolition of the Redbirds is any indication, the Panthers are nearing “Mt. Everest” in their rise to the state tournament summit.

Every facet in every way, the Panthers wore down West Frankfort defensively and scored at will at the end of the floor.

From the opening moments until midway into the third quarter when Coach Waggoner called off the dogs, these 'Cats were in total charge while forcing the Redbirds into total disarray.

“I just told the kids (before the game) that this is the first round of the state tournament series, this is like a regional game for us. We were going to treat this like a first round game,” said Coach Waggoner. “In the past few weeks we have taken some things back and tried to play safe. Our intensity level wasn't as high in practice because we wanted to try and stay healthy. Today we walked in there (practice) and it was a whole different situation with how we prepared for the game.”

In West Frankfort's first 11-possessions of the contest, they had a single free throw to show for it.

Six missed shots and five turnovers were the other results as they fell behind 19-1 after the first quarter.

The Panthers got 20-points from Grant Jausel as this junior struck for four of the team's 10 3-point shots in the game.

Junior Kyle Luke tossed in 12-points in the rout, while a host of Panthers put ink on the scorebook page as nearly everyone wearing Columbia Blue tossed in points.

Hunter Clark, a 6-foot junior, added nine-points to the avalanche.

All in all, 12-different Pinckneyville players produced points in the contest that was over shortly after the opening tip.

Jausel scored 10 of his points in the first quarter, hitting a pair of treys while adding to the “soon-to-be” offensive lay up drill.

When they weren't bombing away from the outside, they were hitting shots in the paint.

Freshman Devin Kitchen also netted one of the 3-pointers on the night while another freshman Dawson Yates, a 6-foot-1 forward, scored two of his eight-points in the early going.

By the time Jausel picked up a steal near mid-court and raced to the other end of a floor for a score, Pinckneyville was up two touchdowns (14-0) with 1:18 left in the first quarter.

Coach Toney's team finally got on the scoreboard with a free throw by 6-foot-6 senior Austin Glodich.

But Jausel added another three and then drove the lane from right to left as his left handed lay in closed the opening quarter of carnage up 18.

West Frankfort finally got a field goal to go down after missing their first six-shots from the field (while committing five early turnovers).

Six-foot-five senior Keagan Thrash scored on a lay in after a Panther turnover.

However going the first 9:21 of a basketball game without a made field goal isn't a formula for success, especially against a talented foe.

But instead of helping to revive the offense, the Redbirds never got going as they saw their record slip to 9-17 overall.

Luke scored six-consecutive points for his club, the third bucket coming on a tip in for a 32-7 lead with 2:40 remaining in the half.

Clark got in on the pounding as he scored a pair of shots on a transition basket and a 3-pointer from the left wing.

Two more 3-pointers closed out the half for Pinckneyville.

Jausel netted his fourth and final trifecta from the far right corner and Yates, who began the game with a bucket, ended the second quarter by draining the Panthers' seventh 3-point bomb of the half.

His shot from the left wing with :02 left, made it 45-11 at the break.

Pinckneyville was 19-of-29 from the field in the first 16-minutes and they rebounded five of those missed shots, three of which turned into near immediate points.

“Coach Waggoner told me (before the game) that they didn't shoot the ball very well on Friday night at home, which is unusual. I knew that would change very quickly. So here we were worried about their cutters going to the basket, their back screens and them pushing it up the floor. Defensively I thought we did a good job in those areas but we didn't get out and guard the perimeter shooting. Jausel can fill it up.”

Most basketball players will usually let up with such a large margin of control coming into a third quarter.

But Coach Waggoner saw his team come out the same way they started.

Three-consecutive fast break lay ins, all off of West Frankfort mistakes, all happened within the first minute of action in the second half.

One by junior J.C. Moll and two from Luke.

By the time Jausel scored his final points of the game on a baseline jumper, the Panthers led 53-14.

Junior Kyle Kreger and senior Miles Chandler added scores with Kreger adding a 15-footer and Chandler netting a 3-pointer as the lead reached its pinnacle at 60-18 with 4:17 remaining.

Coach Waggoner went to his reserve unit to mop up the mess the rest of the night.

West Frankfort managed one run late in the third quarter to make things seem more reasonable to the naked eye.

Senior guard Noah Allen and senior Scott Clinton each scored seven-points for the Redbirds.

Allen scored all three of his buckets and Clinton added two scores in a 13-2 run, one of the few highlights from a dim performance on Senior Night at Max Morris Gym.

“Overwhelming is just about the right word for them. They (Pinckneyville) are overwhelming offensively and how quickly push the ball down the floor, how quickly they swing it, how quickly they cut to the basket. And that is just on the offensive end,” said Coach Toney. “That doesn't count what they are really good at, that is defending. They are overwhelming in every sense of the word.”

The consensus coming into this game was that it was a mismatch.

The numbers proved it to be a valid assessment and projection.

The Panthers were an awe inspiring 31-of-55 overall from the floor (56.3 percent) but before Coach Waggoner pulled the plug they were 27-of-46 (58.6 percent).Led by Jausel, Pinckneyville improved to 27-2 on the season by also hitting 10-of-17 from the 3-point arc.

The rebounding numbers weren't dominate but they stood parallel with the shooting performance.

Pinckneyville ended up with a 24-20 edge on the glass, but that came about more because of the struggle the Redbirds had in getting shot attempts against the defensive shield that the Panthers laid on them.

Coach Toney's club committed 21-turnovers, 18 in the first three quarters.

The Redbirds didn't even take advantage of the Panthers sending them to the foul line, as they hit just 29 percent (5-of-17) from the stripe.

Besides Allen and Clinton, no one else had more than four-points for WF.

Pinckneyville's one flaw on the night was a 2-of-9 showing at the foul line.

The Panthers are riding high heading into next week's 2A Trico Regional where they are the overwhelming favorites.

The top-seed in the sub-sectional Pinckneyville will play the winner of Monday night's Anna-Jonesboro/Vienna contest on Tuesday night.

West Frankfort is the seventh-seed in their sub-sectional and play ninth-seeded Johnston City on Monday night at Eldorado.

If they win they will get sub-sectional top-seeded host Eagles on Tuesday.

“We wanted to be more aggressive tonight. I told the kids to play loose. Shoot the ball, play defense, rebound and run the floor. Enjoy the game because these are the moments that you will remember,” said Coach Waggoner. “Give the kids the credit for the preparation. I think this group has wanted to get to the postseason I think that they are ready. We had a great regular season and I have felt like we have grown as a team.”

West Frankfort
Pinckneyville (74) – Moll 1 0 0-0 2, Chandler 0 1 1-2 4, Clark 3 1 0-0 9, Yates 1 2 0-0 8, Luke 6 0 0-0 12, Louis 1 0 0-2 2, Rice 0 0 0-0 0, Rulevish 0 0 0-0 0, Jausel 4 4 0-0 20, Brueggemann 0 0 0-0 0, Houghland 0 0 0-0 0, Kitchen 1 0 0-0 2, Howard 1 0 0-3 2, Kreger 1 1 0-0 5, Tanner 0 0 0-2 0, Bartnicki 1 0 0-0 2, Kurtz 1 1 1-2 6.
2FG-21, 3FG-10, FT-2-9, PF-20.

West Frankfort (56) – D.Russell 0 1 0-0 3, Levanti 0 0 0-0 0, Wolfe 0 0 1-3 1, B. Russell 0 0 0-0 0, Glodich 1 0 1-3 3, J. Russell 0 0 0-0 0, Powell 0 1 0-0 3, Riddle 1 0 0-2 2, Hammers 0 0 0-1 0, Allen 3 0 1-2 7, Sturghill 0 0 1-2 1, Thrash 2 0 0-0 4, Johnson 0 0 0-0 0, House 0 1 0-0 3, Clinton 3 0 1-3 7, Clark 1 0 0-1 2, Croslin 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-11, 3FG-3, FT-5-17, PF-13.

Fouled Out
– None.
Technical Fouls
– Thrash - West Frankfort.