COLFAX — On a night when dreams and trophies were on the line, bad breaks helped the Heyworth Hornets end the Putnam County Panthers’ boys basketball season on March 7 in the final game of the Ridgeview 1A Sectional with a final score of 60-48.
Both teams started cold with three complete laps of the gym before the Hornets put in the first bucket after 1:15 had dribbled off the clock. At the end of the first period, Heyworth led 11-6, shutting down all Panther scorers except Evan Kreiser and Alec Veverka.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half. You just have to play better this time of the season,” Harold Fay said. “They got a lot of breaks and we didn’t.”
The Panthers (22-9) trailed for the rest of the game as Heyworth outscored Putnam County in three quarters and tied in the fourth.
“We just a hard time scoring. Our effort was there, our defense we played pretty well most of the way,” PC coach Josh Nauman said. “We missed a lot of open shots early and missed a lot we should have made, but you can’t really control that. Shots didn’t fall tonight the way we would have liked.”
Although PC made several rallies during the game, there just wasn’t enough momentum to take it over the top. Adding to the problem was foul trouble in the second half for Kreiser and Veverka which had them using bench time more than normal with Veverka fouling out during the fourth quarter.
“That really hurts. He’s a special player for a sophomore and having to sit him as much as we did in the second half really hurt,” Nauman said. “A couple of those blocks looked pretty clean to me, but not much we can do about it.”
Looking back at the season, Nauman saw some great accomplishments from his team.
“It was a great group. It was the first group I had, they were freshman my first year here,” Nauman said. “They’re great kids and they’ve worked hard. Harold and Evan have been up on the varsity for three years and won about 70 games, two regionals, two conference tournaments and a bunch of other tournaments. They’ve had great careers.”
Fay and Heyworth Hornets senior Dallas Lee each dropped in 19 points to lead their respective teams, with eight of Fay’s points coming from nine attempts at the free-throw line. Kreiser dropped in 13 more for Putnam County with Veverka adding eight.
With back-to-back regional titles, most of the Panthers were disappointed, but proud of their year.
“It doesn’t matter how far you get. I can’t thank this team enough,” Kreiser said. “We had a heck of a year all three years I’ve been on varsity. We felt we’ve accomplished a lot of things.”
“We played good. We just needed to stay more patient,” Veverka said. “Our execution wasn’t the best, but all-in-all it was a fun game.”
Heyworth advanced to the Normal Super-sectional to face Champaign St. Thomas More at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Redbird Arena.
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