The First Southern National Bank Christmas Classic got underway on Tuesday, December 29 at Russellville and Logan County High Schools.
Sixteen total games were played, eight boys’ and eight girls’ at each school, in the day-long event covering the first two rounds of the 2015 FSNB Christmas Classic.
The first games of the day were played at each school’s auxiliary gym and tipped off at 10am.
At Logan County High School, the Christian County Lady Colonels defeated the Crittenden County Lady Rockets, 58-48.
Meanwhile, at Russellville, the Owensboro Lady Devils got by the Hopkinsville Lady Tigers by the score of 70-68.
At 10:30, our local hosting teams were featured in their school’s main gym.
At LCHS the Lady Cougars had an easy time defeating the Central Hardin Lady Bruins, 53-28, to advance to the second round of the tournament.
At Russellville, the Lady Panthers let their opening round game slip away when they lost to the Kenwood Lady Knights, 52-61. Head Coach Calvin Head had gotten the squad back on track after a perfect 3-0 in the Lady Bombers Christmas Tournament in Barlow, KY last week. Many were looking for the Lady Panthers to do well in this home-stand tournament.
At the conclusion of each girls opening game, the boys took the court.
In the RHS auxiliary gym the Kenwood Knights, last year’s FSNB Christmas Classic Champions, dispatched the Apollo Eagles, 62-44. While at the LCHS court, Springfield defeated Dyersburg 50-37 in a meeting of the two other Tennessee schools represented in this year’s tourney.
At noon, on their respective home courts, the Cougars and Panthers rode some of their recent winning momentum to easy victories over their opponents. The Cougars out-shot the Prestonsburg Blackcats, 76-42, and the Panthers continued their high-scoring ways in defeating the St. Mary Vikings 86-67.
Girls’ semi-final action
Lady Tigers 55, Lady Panthers 52
While the winners of the morning’s contests advanced the next step toward Wednesday night’s Championship game, the losers of the opening round faced each other in consolation rounds.
The highlight of the evening’s consolation games was the contest between the Lady Panthers and the Hopkinsville Lady Tigers.
Trailing for most of the game, often by double-digits, the Russellville squad refused to quit. Each time the Lady Tigers seemed ready to pull away, the Lady Panthers would find a shot or make key free throws and be right at the door to knock at the lead.
Late in the third quarter, Russellville tied the contest at 38-38. Fans in attendance were excited and looking for the first victory in Jim Young Gym this season for their Lady Panthers.
The fourth quarter began with Russellville behind 39-42. At 4:38 to go in the game, the Lady Tigers’ lead was cut to two, 46-44,and caused the Hopkinsville squad to call timeout. It was a minute later when the next basket was made; Russellville’s Devonya Bryant’s shot tied the game at 46-46.
Russellville shooters became cold and the team was unable to score until just over a minute was left in the game. Fortunately, the Lady Tigers could do little better managing only six points. Bryant again rose to the occasion with a drive to the basket and score, pulling her team to within four at 52-48.
As it seems we come to expect from the Calvin Head coached Lady Panthers, the final minute was filled with excitement.
Following a timeout after Bryant’s basket, the Lady Tigers were fouled and hit two free throws. Then a Russellville miss was quickly followed by a Hopkinsville turnover. There was 42.7 seconds remaining in the game when Loreal Chaney’s jump shot kept the Lady Panthers with four points at 54-50.
Quick fouls by the Lady Panthers, and three out of four missed free throws by the visitors, set up DeShala LeBlanc’s jump shot made the Hopkinsville lead just a three-point shot away at 55-52 with 13 seconds remaining.
A foul by Russellville and two missed Hopkinsville free throws gave the home team a chance with 7.2 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, and with all fans on the edge of their seats, the Lady Panthers quickly got the ball up court. Three-point shot threat Lexie Day had entered the game for Coach Head. Day got the ball just outside the three-point stripe. A swarm of Hopkinsville defenders rushed at Day. After a successful fake and dribble, Day managed to get a good look at the basket, but she was inside the three-point line. The basket missed and Russellville managed to wrestle a rebound and an attempt inside that fell short. Time expired and the Lady Panthers had lost 52-55.
The Russellville team will get another chance to win their first game of the season at home. At 1 pm on Wednesday the Lady Panthers will face the Crittenden County Lady Rockets in a consolation game to determine seventh place in the FSNB Christmas Classic.
Lady Colonels 53, Lady Cougars 59
Defending their FNSB Christmas Classic title, and playing for a chance to repeat in Wednesday night’s Championship game, the Lady Cougars dug deep and managed a victory over the Christian County Lady Colonels, 59-53.
Dealing with a tough and physical opponent, and suffering from cold shooting to begin the game at LCHS’s Main Gym, the Lady Cougars managed to stay close throughout the first half. It was Torrie Pollard’s basket as the buzzer sounded that enable the home team to go into the break a respectable six points behind, 22-28.
Excellent team play and successful free throws at key times helped the Lady Cougars to come from behind late in the game and secure the win 59-53.
Next for the Lady Colonels is a consolation game versus the Kenwood, TN Lady Knights at 4:30pm Wednesday.
The Lady Cougars will play the Owensboro Lady Devils for the 2015 FSNB Christmas Classic Championship. The Lady Devils earned their shot at the title with a semi-final 45-43 defeat of Kenwood, TN. Tip-off for the game is 6pm at the LCHS Main Gym.
Boys’ semi-final action
Yellow Jackets 60 Panthers 84
The Russellville Panthers offense continued to impress on Tuesday night when they soundly defeated the Springfield Yellow Jackets 84-60.
With a 10 point lead at the end of the first quarter, the Panthers had padded the lead to 14 at the half, 44-30. A very hot-shooting third quarter added 32 points to the total and caused a running clock. Head Coach Phil Todd took advantage of the large lead to play some of his bench. After three quarters, Russellville led 76-39.
The final score was 84-60.
Bradshaw led the Panthers with 26 points in only three quarters. Jacob Naylor’s hot shooting hand added 16 in the victory.
Knights 63 Cougars 43;
Meanwhile, at LCHS, the Cougars could muster only one point in the first quarter against the defending FSNB Christmas Classic Champ Kenwood Knights in their semi-final game on Wednesday night.
Trailing 1-10 after one quarter, the Cougars were able to make a game of it. Behind by six points as the second half got underway, the home team kept the game within striking distance until late in the fourth quarter when the Knights and on-target shooting stretched the lead to twenty, the largest of the night, and the final score of 63-43.
For the Cougars, Noah Whittinghill led with 14 in the loss and Lorenzo Garcia and Mykal Hampton added 10 each.
Springfield and Logan County will play in the consolation game for bragging rights and third place in the tourney. The game will be played at Russellville High School and tips off at 5pm on Wednesday.
The Championship game between the Kenwood Knights and Russellville Panthers will be at 6:30pm Wednesday at Jim Young Gym. Knights Head Coach Dennis Perdue will try to repeat as Champion. The last to coach a team to a repeat as Champions of the FSNB Christmas Classic was Perdue when he coached the Russellville Panthers to the title in 2009, 2010, and 2011.