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Panthers escape with one-point win
Maxwell High's boys basketball team got away with one Tuesday, dodging a couple of bullets along the way to hang on for a 64-63 win over visiting Butte Valley in the first round of the Division VI playoffs.
The game had the makings of a laugher out of the gate, as the Bulldogs left their shooting touch on the bus and trailed the Panthers 15-3 after the first quarter. George Barajas, who led Maxwell with 17 points, canned a pair of treys in the period, and Riley deWit also connected from long range, with Maxwell getting two points apiece from Angel Rolon, Bryce Perry and Zach Troughton for the early bulge.
The Bulldogs were anything but ready to roll over and play dead, however, as they loaded their offensive guns and shot for 16 points in the second quarter, but the Panthers still led 34-19 at the break.
Perry put up nine of Maxwell's points in the period, and deWit and Barajas netted five apiece.
Butte Valley came out locked and loaded for the second half, taking aim at the Panthers' sizable lead and picking away at it shot-by-shot.
The Bulldogs' Tyler Coltrin hoisted his team onto his shoulders in the third quarter, scoring 11 points that included eight in succession that made the score 40-33. While Maxwell was outscored 17-10 in the frame, they still entered the fourth quarter up 44-36.
Butte Valley took bigger pieces out of the Panthers' lead three points at a time. Coltrin began the quarter with a three-point play, and Gustavo Lopez connected from behind the arc, before another three-point play by Andrew Lucitskii made it just 57-51 with 1:50 left to play.
Compounding some Maxwell turnover problems was their inability to take advantage of frequent trips to the charity stripe, as the Panthers made just 17-of-31 from the line. Despite being in the bonus for the final 4:11, Maxwell converted just 10-of-19, and after Nathan Cushman sank a 3-pointer and added a bucket, the score stood at 64-60 with just 10 ticks left and the Bulldogs inbounding the ball.
Nobody in the entire gymnasium was more relieved than deWit to see the clock showing time had expired, as on the last Butte Valley possession he fouled Trevor Robertson in the act of launching a 3-pointer that was off the mark, sending him to the line for three free throws.
It could have been a disastrous foul, but without any time remaining there was no chance for Robertson to miss his last shot intentionally to give his team a chance for a tying rebound bucket. He swished all three freebies for the final one-point margin of the Maxwell win.
"We played the first half real well," said Maxwell coach Forrest Bateman, "but in the second half I thought we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win."
Of the Panthers' turnovers, he said, "We've had trouble with turnovers, but this time of the year they should be out of our system."
Following Barajas in double figures were Perry and Troughton, who both put up 15 points, and deWit, who tacked on 12.
Seventh-seeded Maxwell (10-17) played at No. 2 Paradise Adventist (19-6) on Thursday.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org