The South Iron Panthers, fresh off winning yet another Thanksgiving Tournament, improved their record to 4-0 on Friday night after dusting off the East Carter Redbirds 54-41. This was no easy task either, as the Panthers handed the perennially tough Redbirds their first loss of the season.
After a lull in their schedule where people are generally concerned about rust and stagnation, Head Coach Dusty Dinkins spoke to the win with, “We were concerned that not playing for over a week that our timing and rhythm might be off offensively. That was the case tonight. We had several turnovers and didn’t finish as well as we did at the AV Tournament. We did battle for 32 minutes and found a way to win a tough, close game.”
That close game didn’t seem that close in the first quarter, as the Panthers dropped 17 on East Carter and allowed just six points. But the Redbirds would rework their strategy and try and scrap this one out. They came back with a more solid defensive approach in the second quarter, but still found themselves down 9-8 in the frame.
That gave South Iron a 26-14 lead at the halftime break. And it was one they wouldn’t relinquish, despite the best efforts of their opponent.
The Redbirds kept their push going in the third quarter, matching the Panthers bucket for bucket, as the two teams were knotted at 13 apiece in the 8-minute span. They would keep that drive going as well, taking advantage of a South Iron team that was unusually out of sync after their layoff.
The Panthers fought through though and never took their foot off the gas. Even though they had a 39-27 lead going into the final quarter, they still outscored the Redbirds 14-13 in the last eight minutes of the game.
They closed out the game 54-41 and improved their record to 4-0 on the season.
Jermartez Burse was once again the leading scorer with 16 points. He also had three rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Gabe Ruble was second in scoring with 13 points and led the team in assists on top of his two steals and three boards. William Malone led the Panthers with six rebounds.
It wasn’t as dominant as most of their victories tend to be, but it was a gutsy, hard-fought win over a very tough opponent, and they will take that every time.
South Iron will look to stay undefeated on Tuesday, 12/6 when they take on a 1-3 Ellington squad to keep their perfect season alive.