Panther Valley had a prime opportunity to come away with a win over Pottsville on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately, the Panthers let it slip away.
First, the lead...
Then, the game...
The Panthers controlled the entire first half and led 26-20 at the break; however, Pottsville turned the Tide in the third quarter and forced Panther Valley into nine second half turnovers, as they escaped Lansford with a key 53-49 Schuylkill League Division 1 victory.
The win improves the Crimson Tide to 11-2 on the season (4-2 in the League and just one game back of Division co-leaders North Schuylkill and Jim Thorpe), while the Panthers fall two games back in the Divisional race with a 9-5 record (3-3 in the League).
For Panther Valley, the loss was eerily similar to last week's Blue Mountain game, where a nine-point second half lead turned into a nine-point Panthers loss.
"We didn't turn over the ball a lot tonight (12 turnovers), but when we did, they came at the worst possible times," stated Panther Valley head coach Pat Crampsie. "Pottsville has shooters. When you turn the ball over, they're going to get a good look (at the basket) and make you pay and that's what happened tonight."
Leading 30-25 with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter, three consecutive Panthers turnovers resulted in six straight Pottsville points in the span of 48 seconds, as the Tide took a 31-30 lead.
Panther Valley regained the advantage with a Brock Mitchell field goal early in the fourth quarter (33-30), but seven straight points by Nick Schlitzer gave Pottsville a lead they would never relinquish.
Schlitzer, the Tide's leading scorer, was a thorn in Panther Valley's side all night, as the junior sharpshooter shot 8-for-12 from the field for a game-high 25 points, including four three-pointers.
"The kid's a gamer and we knew that coming in," added Crampsie. "I thought we did a good job contesting most of his looks, but a player of his caliber makes plays and he certainly did that tonight."
For the Panthers, Brock Mitchell led the way with 17 points.
"These past two league losses have been very frustrating," concluded Crampsie. "We need to get better, plain and simple. We're not there yet, but hopefully by the end of the season we will be."
Pottsville converted on 16 of its 36 attempts from the floor, while Panther Valley shot 20-for-50. The Panthers outrebounded the Crimson Tide 32-26, while both teams turned the ball over 12 times.
In the JV game, Pottsville rolled to a 48-26 victory behind Brandon Bridy's 13 points.
Schappell 3-2-2-10, Heffner 2-0-0-5, Bridy 1-0-2-2, Whalen 2-2-6-7, Leymeister 0-2-2-2, Tobin 0-0-0-0, Schlitzer 8-5-7-25, Spece 0-2-2-2. TOTALS: 16-13-21-53.
Stanko 2-0-0-4, Ogozalek 3-0-0-9, Revell 1-0-0-2, Picht 0-0-0-0, Lewis 4-0-0-9, Mitchell 7-2-7-17, Stano 3-1-2-8. TOTALS: 20-3-9-49.
Pottsville 10 10 11 22 - 53
Panther Vy. 12 14 5 18 - 49
Three-Pointers: P - Schlitzer 4, Schappell 2, Heffner 1, Whalen 1; PV - Ogozalek 3, Lewis 1, Mitchell 1, Stano 1.