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Panthers nip Wildcats with late rally

January 25, 2012
By ED LOOMAN - Sports correspondent , The Herald-Star

RICHMOND - Brennan Czuchran scored just five points for Buckeye Local in Tuesday's game at Edison. Three of them, however, made all the difference.

The sophomore turned an offensive rebound into a hoop with less than five seconds to play and drew a foul in the process. He calmly sank the freebie and gave the Panthers a 56-55 Buckeye 8 victory over the Wildcats.

His heroics capped a wild fourth period that saw Edison fight its way back from a double-digit deficit and take its first lead since early in the contest.

Jay Morris' cagers appeared to be in cruise control midway through the third quarter after Greg Ring muscled his way for a pair to give Buckeye Local a 38-26 advantage. Todd English's quint, however, wasn't ready to call it a day.

Austin Abdalla sank a pair from the line, Alec Jones and Mark Smyth followed with two-pointers and the Buckeye lead was down to seven. Jon Chase scored off a nifty Phil Hilt assist to cap the 7-0 Wildcat run.

Czuchran's initial hoop came when he followed up on his own miss, putting the Panthers up 40-33. Baskets by Smyth and Chad Wickham made it 40-37 Panthers heading into the final eight minutes.

Jones banked home a pair to open the final stanza. Justin Isinghood got one to fall keeping the Panthers ahead by three. A Wickham triple tied the score at 42. Abdalla went three of four from the stripe putting Edison in the lead. The Wildcats would stretch the margin to five twice, the second coming when Wickham drove inside and scored with his left hand. Each time, however, the Panthers fought back.

Wickham's final deuce of the evening put the score at 55-53 and set the stage for Czuchran's game-winning three-point play. Edison had one final opportunity but was unable to convert.

"He plays a lot older than he is," Morris said of his sophomore. "He's a very mature player; he works hard and plays year round.

"We beat them by 19 at home earlier (the Panthers posted at 78-59 win in that one) and we knew this game would be completely different. They are a good team and Coach English does a great job. We weren't expecting to win big, we just wanted to get a W. It's hard to win on the road in the Buckeye 8 and our guys were able to get the shots there at the end."

The score was deadlocked at 17 after the opening period. Buckeye Local outscored Edison 14-7 in the second to take a 31-24 halftime advantage.

Isinghood led the Panthers, now 7-5, in scoring with 18. Ring finished with nine and grabbed nine of his team's 31 rebounds.

Morris noted Isinghood started the season "coming off football with a knee injury. It took a long time for him to get back in the groove. He goes to the basketball well."

The Panthers, who host St. Clairsville Friday, went 23 of 55 from the floor and five of six from the line. They were charged with 13 turnovers.

"Hats off to Edison," Morris added. "They were down, they came back and took the lead."

Edison's Smyth bagged 19 to take game scoring honors. Wickham contributed 14. Jones and Abdalla both had eight. The Wildcats hit 21 of 48 field goal tries. They were, however, whistled for 17 ball-handling miscues.

"We needed a stop there at the end and we didn't get it," English explained. "We didn't get a foul call when we tried to foul. We had something good set up there at the end and didn't get a call.

"It was our own demise. We had too many turnovers against their press. You can't expect to win when you turn it over like we did tonight. The effort was there but ..."

The 5-7 Wildcats collected 26 team rebounds. Jones grabbed 11 strays and Smyth eight. Edison will entertain Martins Ferry Friday.

"We started taking care of the ball and getting some good looks," English said of his team's second-half run. "We had the lead, came down on offense and couldn't get anything to fall. Turnovers cost us as did not getting back on defense.

Both teams had a chance there at the end. They ended up with the win. We're wishing we could have one more rebound."

Buckeye Local, 56, Edison 55

Buckeye Local 17 14 9 16 - 56

Edison 17 7 13 18 - 55

BUCKEYE LOCAL (7-5): Czuchran 2 1-1 5; Barsch 0 0-0 0; Durbin 0 0-0 0; Duncan 2 0-0 4; Rozenek 2 0-0 4; Michalo 3 0-0 8; Ring 3 2-2 9; Agnew 3 2-3 8; Richardson 0 0-0 0; Isinghood 8 0-0 18. TOTALS: 23 5-6 56. 3-pointers: Isinghood (2), Michalo (2), Ring.

EDISON (5-7): Wickham 6 0-0 14; Smyth 8 3-5 19; Hilt 1 1-2 4; Jones 3 2-2 8; Abdalla 2 4-6 8; Marcus 0 0-0 0; Chase 1 0-0 2; Bendle 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 21 10-15 55. 3-pointers: Wickham (2); Hilt.

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