Mason Smith of Fairbanks drives to the basket while two Madison Plains defenders attempt to close down his lane during a game at Fairbanks High School. Smith tallied 12 points during the Panthers’ 68-53 win.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
The bad weather is not only causing havoc for those traveling, but also for coaches trying to get their squads ready to take on their opponents.
“We haven’t practiced since last Thursday because of the weather,” said Fairbanks boys head basketball coach Justin George. “So we did well considering. Preparing for an opponent, then that game gets cancelled and then you have to come back with a different opponent, that is a tough task.”
On Tuesday night, though, the inclement weather didn’t slow down the Panthers as they cruised to a easy 68-53 victory over Ohio Heritage Conference opponent Madison Plains.
The first quarter was a struggle for the Panthers on the defensive side of the court as the Golden Eagles rang up 20 points with the help of their shooters from beyond the arc.
Fairbanks was able to keep the game close, however, with some fancy shooting of their own.
Cross Hackathorne notched seven points, including three from beyond the arc.
“In the first quarter, giving up 20 was a little hard to swallow, but we were right there though,” said George. “We got balanced scoring across the board, which always helps.”
The Panthers closed the 20-15 gap quickly in the second quarter.
The team was given the green light to light it up from beyond the arc. Fairbanks converted four three-point shots, two coming from Jacob Nicol and Hackathorne, to tally 22 points in the quarter.
“We had a nice little run toward the end of the second quarter and that really helped propel us into the second half,” said George. “We didn’t turn it over, which is always a good thing.”
The small run concluded with a buzzer-beater from Nicol that gave the Panthers a 37-28 halftime lead.
The second half saw FHS switch to more of an inside game, spreading the ball around to an array of shooters.
Gavin Horn worked the low post for four points and helped Fairbanks stretch their lead to 52-36.
“We wanted to get some other kids involved so we can hopefully go forward and get some confidence as we go on in the season,” said George.
The Golden Eagles turned to their physicality with aggressive defense and play in the paint.
The Panthers endured the tough play by converting seven of 11 shots from the free throw line.
Horn continued play strong down low, notching six points on his way to 15 for the game.
George was also happy to see his Panthers playing strong against a physical team.
“The second (half) we went up and down with Madison Plains, but we battled with a physical team, which is always a good thing to see,” he said.
The win increased the Panthers’ record to 6-3 on the season with an OHC record of 6-1.
George believes the Panthers are right in the thick of a conference title as they prepare to confront their OHC foes for the second time this season.
“I think we are right there and the one game we did lose we only lost by two,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to focus on league games to hopefully due. When we go back into the second time around (OHC opponents), hopefully we will be better to prepared to continue down a winning path.”
The Panthers are scheduled to return to the court Friday when they travel to Greenon.
FHS 15 22 15 16 68
MP 20 08 08 17 53
FHS- Hackathorne- 18, Horn- 15, Nicol- 13, Smith- 12, Green- 4, Beem- 2, Hamm- 2, Rausch- 2
MP- Holbrook- 18, Ruzicka 10, Willman- 9, Toops- 5, Johnson- 3, Richards- 3, Petec- 2, Vallery- 2, Ernst- 1.
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