The winning machine that is the South Iron Panthers Boys Varsity Basketball team just keeps on rolling. This week they took on Bunker and Clearwater and had no problem sniping the Eagles (60-45) and caging the Tigers (59-35). The pair of wins made it four straight and moved the overall record to an impressive 14-1 for the back-to-back defending State Champions.
The first of the two games of the week saw the Panthers traveling to Bunker to take on the #2 ranked school in Class 1. As obviously noted by their class standing, the Eagles would not be pushovers. That was the case in the first quarter of this one, as Bunker jumped out in front 16-7. The Panthers clawed their way back into the game with a 14-7 second-quarter effort, but that still had them swallowing a 23-21 halftime deficit. Certainly a manageable one though.
After the break South Iron made some adjustments and found a way to not only slow the Eagle attack, but they also got their own offense humming. The Panthers laid 18 on Bunker in the third quarter and held them to just 11, making the score 39-34 to set up the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter was where South Iron would really turn it on though. They put up a game-high 21 in the final frame to pull away for good, as Bunker could only manage 11 once again. It was a second half onslaught and the Panthers were relentless with the game on the line.
Jermartez Burse and Kolton Dinkins each had 15 points to lead the team, and Sawyer Huff was good for 10 to round out the top scorers. Jermarquis Burse was the most effective on the glass with seven rebounds while Jermartez led the team in assists with five and steals with four. As a team, the Panthers went 11-of-18 from the line, which came in handy in the fourth quarter. It was a huge win against the second best team in the Class.
Fast forward three days, and South Iron was back home and ready to host the Clearwater Tigers. The Panthers started slow in this one again though, trailing 11-9 after the first quarter. The second was a bit of an improvement, but both offenses struggled to get in sync in this one. South Iron won the second-quarter battle, but just barely, edging to their opponents 9-7. That made the halftime score 18-all at the buzzer.
Whatever speech Head Coach Dusty Dinkins said in the locker room sure did the trick, because the Panthers came out firing on all cylinders with a 24-point third-quarter effort to break the tie in grand fashion. They held the Tigers to just 11 and took a 42-28 advantage heading into the final quarter.
South Iron dazzled again in the fourth, as they trumped Clearwater 17-6 to hammer in the final nail. It was certainly a game of two halves, as a tight one early, quickly developed into a blowout.
Tez Burse was a beast in this one with 22 points to lead all scorers. He was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and filled up the box score with his eight boards, five assists and five steals. K Dinkins was important as well, putting up 11 points, while Huff had 10 and shared the team lead with nine rebounds. As a team the Panthers won the turnover battle, committing just nine and forcing 17 on the other end.
Two more quality wins is just another week at the office for this South Iron squad, who will roll into Van Buren on Tuesday to try and make it five in a row and 15-1 on the season.