It started off ugly for Panther Valley, but it ended beautifully.
The Panthers defeated Northwestern, 55-46, in a non-league boys' basketball contest Thursday night in New Tripoli.
After starting the game off with three straight turnovers, PV broke the 2:28 dry spell by both teams to get on the board first. Other than Northwestern holding a 4-3 lead for 21 seconds in the first quarter, the Panthers were in the drivers' seat.
"This was a big game for us," said Panther Valley head coach Pat Crampsie. "We were 3-3 overall [coming in]. We were either going to be above or below .500 after tonight. So we knew this was one that we needed to get."
Northwestern (3-5) wanted to win this one as well to reach the .500 mark overall, but the Tigers went 5-for-24 from the field in the first half, which included a four-point first quarter, to dig themselves a hole they could never escape from.
"Those numbers don't necessarily mean we shot bad," said Northwestern head coach Dan Eddinger. "We just didn't run our offense. Our shot selection wasn't very good. We just didn't run the offense over and over again until we found something good, like we should've. That is what those numbers tell me, more than we just shot bad."
Panther Valley senior Jake Kusko had quite the opposite night from the floor than the Tigers as he went 4-for-4 from the field and drained 7 of 9 free throws to lead the Panthers in scoring with 16 points.
"I was really proud of Jake Kusko coming off the bench," Crampsie stated. "Giving us 16 was great and it was a huge game for him. It is something that we really needed and he stepped up for us."
The Tigers mustered 11 points by halftime and got as close as seven late in the third quarter, but the superb free throw shooting by the Panthers, they made 24 of 29 foul shots, secured the win.
Juniors Logan Schwartz and Taylor Breininger led the Northwestern offensive attack with 10 points each.
Crampsie didn't understate the victory's importance.
"Coming in to this game, we knew how big it was," he said. "We didn't want to put undo pressure on the kids, but we knew that this started a big stretch of games for us."
The victory improves the Panthers' record to 4-3 on the season and gave them their first-ever win over Northwestern in boys basketball.
It wasn't pretty from the beginning for Panther Valley, but it was a book-worthy ending the record-book that is.
Dubosky 3-6-10-12, Szczecina 3-1-2-8, Kusko 4-7-9-16, Stano 3-4-4-12, Ferryman 1-1-4-3, Nace 2-0-0-4, Vermillion 0-0-0-0. Totals: 16-24-29-55
Archer 0-0-0-0, Williamson 3-0-1-6, Mengel 2-0-0-5, Jones 1-0-1-3, Breininger 4-2-2-10, Breidinger 2-0-2-4, Schwartz 3-1-4-10, Richardson 2-0-4-6, Markovitch 1-0-1-2. Totals: 18-3-15-46
Panther Valley 13 9 14 19 - 55
Northwestern 4 7 18 17 - 46
Three-Pointers: PV- Szczecina 1, Kusco 1, Tano 1; NW- Mengel 1, Jones 1, Schwartz 3, Richardson 2