The South Iron Panthers moved to 21-3 on the season after a pair of wins this week. They hosted Eminence on Tuesday and gutted out a 65-56 victory, before heading to Lesterville on Friday. That one was not so close. The Panthers crushed the Bearcats 81-37 and have now beaten Lesterville both times by a combined score of 151-59.
Tuesday’s game against the Redwings was a much tighter affair, especially in the first half. Both teams fought to a 15-all draw after the first eight minutes of back-and-forth action. South Iron attempted to pull away in the second, but Eminence kept hanging with the Panthers. After the first two quarters South Iron was clinging to a razor-thin 30-28 lead.
The halftime break was kind to the Panthers though. Despite coming out a little sluggish in the third, they still managed to expand their lead with an 11-8 quarter. That set the stage for a wild fourth quarter that showcased both teams’ offensive abilities. South Iron ripped off 24 points and the Redwings hung in with 20, but were never able to get over the hump. Their lead was never a big one, but the Panthers managed to possess it from the second quarter on and held on for the 65-56 final.
The Burse boys were huge in this one with Jermarquis leading the way with 15 points and four rebounds, while Jermartez was nipping at his heels with 14 points, adding five boards and seven assists. This one was certainly a team effort though, as all five starters finished in double digits. Sawyer Huff hit a pair of big threes and finished with 13 points, while Kolton Dinkins (3 assists, 5 rebounds) and Gabe Ruble (2-3pt, 3 assists) each put up 10 points.
The game against Lesterville on Friday was the polar opposite of the one earlier in the week. The Panthers came out guns blazing in the first, generating a huge lead and never looked back from there. They drained 27 in game’s opening eight minutes and held the Bearcats to a mere nine. South Iron wasn’t quite as deadly in the second quarter, but they still got the job done with an 18-12 advantage. That made the score 45-21 as the halftime buzzer sounded and essentially buried Lesterville.
The Panthers kept their foot on the gas (at least for a bit) in the second half, unloading another 23 points on Lesterville, who were only able to pick up nine more. That was a big enough cushion for South Iron to give the bench some valuable experience minutes and put this one to bed. The subs came through with 13 in the fourth and held the Bearcats to just seven for a complete 81-37 victory.
Jermarquis Burse led the way again with 20 points in a near-perfect shooting effort. He was 6-of-7 from the floor, made his only attempt from downtown and went a perfect 5-of-5 at the line. Jermartez Burse was next in line with 12 points, but he filled up the box score with his double-double that featured 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block. Dinkins was the only other player in double figures. He had 10 points and led the team with five steals, while William Malone chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing a double-double himself.
The Panthers have been perfect since an uncharacteristic loss to Waynesville on January 27th, and they will look to remain so as they close out the regular season next week with games against Steelville and Festus.