Camped out in Springfield, MO for the Class 1 District 3 Final Four, the South Iron Panthers were looking to avoid the sting of the St. Elizabeth Hornets in the State Semifinals. Well, they did that and then some, as the defending State Champion Panthers shredded their opponents 85-51 with a complete victory that ushered them into the Finals.
South Iron started hot and stayed hot in this one. They took down the first quarter 22-15, creating a nice little offensive cushion before unleashing their blanketing defense in the next frame. They won the battle of the second quarter 20-8 and suddenly had the luxury of a 42-23 lead heading into the halftime break. A 50% field goal effort will do that for you, especially when you hold your opponent to 33%.
Head Coach Dusty Dinkins must have kept his boys pumped up in the locker room because they came out with just as much grit and determination in the second half… and kept the hot hand alive. The Hornets showed some resolve in the third to try and buzz their way back into the game, but the Panthers still won the quarter 20-19.
In the fourth, South Iron had their way and didn’t just put the final nail in the coffin. They had time to dig the hole and bury it as well with their 23-9 effort. The Panthers hit 63% of their FGs in the second half and shot nearly 77% from the line, carrying them to the 85-51 victory and right into the State Championship Finals for the second straight year.
Drenin Dinkins led the charge with 23 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals and hit all seven of his attempts from the charity stripe. Nipping at his heels was Champ McMurry with 21 of his own and a team leading eight boards, while Jermartez Burse collected 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. Last, but certainly not least, DJ Prater filled up the box score with 11 points, six boards, four assists and a team-leading five steals.
When you spread the offense around like the Panthers did in this game they are nearly impossible to beat. A lesson the St. Elizabeth Hornets learned on Friday night and likely won’t soon forget. Now South Iron looks ahead to the final hurdle in completing back to back State Titles for the first time in program history. Their opponents will be the 25-3 Stanberry Bulldogs and this should be a no holds barred effort from whistle to whistle for all the marbles.
A 27-4 record is already something special, but that 28th win could be magical for the tiny town of Annapolis, MO and Panther fans everywhere. One to go to get that second straight title. Good luck Panthers!
Starting lineups for tonight’s 8pm tilt are listed below.
- #3 Austin Schwebach
- #4 Korbin Fletchall
- #5 Colby McQuinn
- #13 Gavin Cameron
- # 14 Tyler Schwebach
South Iron Panthers
- #1 Drenin Dinkins
- # 3 Jermartez Burse
- #25 Kolton Dinkins
- #30 DJ Prater
- #32 Champ McMurry