Effingham Daily News
It wasn’t the style of play the Effingham Flaming Hearts’ seniors are accustomed to, but Effingham persevered and beat a 3-point happy Pana squad 74-64 Saturday on Senior Night.
The Panthers buried 13 3-pointers on the night, riding a rollercoaster of momentum against Effingham, but everytime they got close, Effingham found its way inside and took control back against the Panthers.
The Flaming Hearts scored 90 percent of their baskets on from two-point range, using excellent offensive execution and passing to find the open man inside time and time again against an aggressively pressing Pana defense.
“I thought we did do a good job passing the ball against their pressure,” said Effingham coach Ron Reed. “They do such a good job of back tipping and trying to run up from behind.”
Pana rode the hot hand of Jonathan McLeod in the first quarter to take an 18-15 lead after the first quarter and went up 23-20 with seven minutes in the second on a Kyle Gibson three.
Gibson and the rest of the Panthers went ice cold from there, as Effingham went on an 18-0 run behind Isaac Foreman, Michael Carie, Grant Wolfe and Kevin Daugherty to take a 38-23 lead with 1:44 left.
But, as quickly as they went cold, the Panthers heated right back up, hitting six three pointers as Gibson got going, and the Panthers turned a 38-27 deficit at the half into a 52-52 tie after three.
Gibson scored the first five points of the quarter for Pana to take a 57-54 lead. Effingham bounced right back to take the lead, one it’d never surrender.
“You have to take your hat off to them,” Reed said. “Some of their kids made some big threes from pretty deep with guys on them. I thought we were pretty solid when it was a two-point ball game. We were able to get to the free throw line and get some big rebounds.”
Defensively, one of the keys down the stretch was shutting down Gibson, who tallied just one point after Pana took the 57-54 lead, and the Panthers only hit one more three after that point as a team.
“We just tried to limit his touches,” Reed said. “That’s about all you can do with someone shooting as well as he is. He had a fine ballgame, and all the press clippings I’ve read about him, he’s every bit as good as they said he is.”
Leighton Lark led Effingham with 18 points, 12 in the second half. Kevin Daugherty had 12 off the bench, Foreman scored 10 and Wolfe had nine of his own.
The program said fairwell to its seniors, despite a home game being rescheduled for next Saturday against Mt. Zion, as Marcus Robinson, Kennan Mahaffey, Phil and Andrew Knight, Matt Wohltman, Lark and Foreman were honored before the game.
“It’s one of those things where you want to enjoy playing in front of your home fans, you want to be successful,” Reed said.
The Flaming Hearts are now 16-4 and play at Paris Tuesday night.
Pana 18 9 25 12 64
Effingham 15 23 14 22 74
Pana: Miller 3, McLeod 15, Beeson 4, Gibson 27, Trexler 4, Zahradka 6, Patton 4, Clark 1
Effingham: Robinson 5, Mahaffey 3, P. Knight 3, Wohltman 8, Lark 18, Wolfe 9, Daugherty 12, Foreman 10, Carie 6