Saturday, December 20th, 2008
By Gary R. Rasberry
Parkway is off to a 4-0 start
ROCKFORD - The anticipated barnburner between Fort Recovery and Parkway lived up to the hype.
The lead changed hands four times in the final three minutes, but it was solid free-throw shooting by Parkway that kept the Panthers undefeated on the season with a 58-54 win over the Indians at Panther Gymnasium.
Parkway (4-0, 1-0 Midwest Athletic Conference) was 16-of-21 from the charity stripe in the contest, including a stellar 10-of-13 in the fourth quarter.
"It's clutch, and that's how we're winning these basketball games," said Parkway coach Doug Hughes. "We got seniors for the most part - (and) some younger guys - stepping up. That's what you hope they do when they become seniors. They're doing a great job down the stretch. The last three games have been extremely tight and we got guys stepping up making free throws and making plays down the stretch."
The other anticipated showdown, between the Fort's Greg Kahlig and Parkway's Josh Fisher, two of the top scorers in the area early on in the season, also lived up to the standard.
Kahlig, coming in averaging just over 20 points per game, was 5-of-7 from the field in the first half and had 15 of his team's 27 points in the first 16 minutes.
Hughes made slowing down Kahlig a priority at halftime.
"We went into halftime and that was our major goal," said Hughes. "... As a coaching staff, we had to come up with something. We came up with face-guarding him and playing some 2-3 zone."
The plan worked, as Kahlig was 2-of-6 from the field in the second half, but still finished with a game-high 22 points.
Fisher, averaging 18.3 points per game coming in, was the focus of solid defense for Fort Recovery, with defensive ace Frank Thien and Kahlig taking turns. Fisher was 4-of-14 from the field for 10 points on the night.
"He's by far one of the top five players in the area," said Fort Recovery coach Brian Patch of Fisher. "He's going to make every defense worry about where he's at on the floor. I thought our guys did a great job. We didn't do anything special. We just always wanted to know where he's at on the floor."
"He had to work for every point and I thought he did a pretty good job," said Hughes. "He forced a couple of shots. He did a real good job getting others involved."
With Fisher struggling, the rest of the Panthers stepped up. Levon Archer hit a trio of three-pointers to start the game and finished with 15 points.
Zach Bates also shined, scoring a team-high 16 for the Panthers and sparking the team when Fort Recovery was coming in hot and heavy.
Eight points was the biggest lead Parkway could manage, that coming in the second quarter before the Indians managed to come back and tie the game with 3 1/2 minutes to go in the half.
The closeness continued in the third and fourth quarters. The Indians got a short lead at 38-37 in the third quarter and with 3:01 left in the fourth quarter, Thien's three-pointer put the Indians up 47-46, prompting Hughes to call a timeout.
Fisher gave Parkway the lead back with a layup with 2:43 left at 48-47, but 42 seconds later, Craig Tobe got a stickback to make it 49-48. Bates sank a pair of free throws with 1:47 to go to make it 50-49.
Kahlig had a solid shot at the basket from the foul line, but missed. Archer got the rebound and was fouled, making both free tosses to make it 52-49 with 71 seconds left. Tobe tried a three-pointer, but Archer again came up with a rebound and was fouled. This time, Archer missed but Fort Recovery got tied up with the ball, giving the jump ball to Parkway.
Fisher sank one-of-two free throws with 37.8 seconds left to make it 53-49, but Thien came back, drove the lane and was fouled as the ball went through the hoop to make it 53-51. Thien missed the free throw as Drew Luginbill pulled down one of his nine boards on the night. Luginbill went to the line six times in the last 28.3 seconds, making five.
"It was a great win for us tonight," said Hughes. "Numerous guys we were counting on stepped up. What can you say about Drew Luginbill down the stretch. ... I thought Drew stepped up and had a pretty nice game. Zach played well, Levon got going early and played well and Logan Hunter gave us outstanding minutes off the bench. It was a great team win for us."
"I thought overall, we played very well," said Patch. "The difference, I thought in the game, was in the turnover department (Fort Recovery turned the ball over 14 times compared to Parkway's nine). We made some silly mistakes on our part.
"You look at the stats, basically even all across the board with the exception of free throws (Fort Recovery was 6-of-8) and turnovers."
Toby Metzger added 11 points for the Indians. Thobe and Faller each added eight.
Parkway gets one more game in before Christmas, hosting Indiana rival South Adams on Tuesday night. Fort Recovery comes back to action next Friday, taking part in the Mercer Health Holiday Classic at Coldwater, facing Waynesfield in the first semifinal at 6 p.m.
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