Russellville knocked off the defending state champions 73-62 at the Warren Central gymnasium. Several sources placed the Panthers and Dragons as the number one and two teams in the region going into the contest with either team sitting atop the polls, depending on where the information was found.
Russellville left little doubt as to which team was the best in the region Tuesday night with their win over the Dragons.
It also ended Coach Tim Riley's team's 54-game winning streak over Fourth Region teams, dating back three years.
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The Panthers starting line-up in their season opener looked like this: Jerrell Mayo (sophomore), Tyler Meacham (sophomore), Patrick Temple (senior), T.C. Thomason (senior), and Orlando Woodard (senior).
Warren Central claimed the first five points of the game but their run came to an end when Mayo put Russellville's first two points of the season on a jumper in the paint.
The Dragons held the lead until the Panthers were able to tie it up at 10 points a piece on a Thomason lay-up. Russellville pulled away in the quarter and led 22-12 when the period ended; Thomason put eight points on the scoreboard in the frame.
Warren Central closed the gap in the second quarter. Led by sophomore Jeremy Anderson, who had 11 points in the period, the Dragons fought back and trailed by just two points at halftime. They tied the game at 33 late in the quarter on a free-throw by Mr. Kentucky Basketball candidate, senior Troy McFarland.
Senior Leo Suggs' lay-up with three seconds on the clock gave Russellville the two-point advantage at the intermission, 35-33.
The third quarter was the most exciting eight minutes of the game. There were seven lead changes in the period and three ties.
The scoring attack for the Panthers was balanced in the frame; three guys (Meacham, Suggs, and Temple) picked up four points apiece. The quarter ended with Warren Central holding a two-point lead, 53-51.
Russellville dominated the fourth period. The off-season conditioning paid dividends for the Panthers as they wore down the legs of the Dragons and out-scored them 20-11 in the last quarter.
The game's MVP, Meacham, added eight points in that frame and finished with a team-high 18. He tied the score at 53 by hitting two shots from the charity stripe and led his team to an 11 point victory, 73-62.
"I thought our senior experience took over in the last quarter. We didn't panic when they made a run, and we handled them tying us well," said Coach Dennis Pardue.
Knocking off the defending state champions was a great way for Russellville to start their season. They left no question about who the best team in the region is- at least for now- with their win over the 17th ranked team in the state (according to the Courier Journal).
The win is the first of what one would think will be many for the new Panther head coach, Purdue, at the helm of the Russellville program.
"People asked me why we didn't act more excited, but we went there expecting to win," Pardue said. "Russellville's been there before."
Russellville and Central have won six of the past seven regional championships and at least one of them has been in seven straight regional finals.
They will be back in action Saturday at home against Glasgow at 7:30. The JV game begins at 6.
RHS (73) Tyler Meacham (18), T.C. Thomason (17), Patrick Temple (12), Leo Suggs (7), Jerrell Mayo (6), Orlando Woodard (5), Jon Tisdale (4), Kenton Cage (2), Peyton White (2)
WCHS (62) Jeremy Anderson (22), Nick Britt (13), Troy McFarland (8), P.J. Smith (7), Quinton Curry (5), Hall (4), Hudson (2), Woodard (1)