Basketball

Champs Champs Champs!

The South Iron Panthers are State Champions for the third straight year, as they take down St. Elizabeth in overtime to bring home the Class 1 Title yet again.

Three in a row!

On Friday the South Iron Panthers pulled off one of the most impressive feats in all of sports by winning their third consecutive State Championship. The small school darlings of Class 1 needed an extra frame to get the job done, but they found a “third wind” and knocked off the St. Elizabeth Hornets 56-47 in overtime to capture the ever elusive “three-peat”.

RING.

R- Respond to adversity properly

I – Intangibles

N- Next Play Now

G – Grit

This is what Head Coach Dusty Dinkins preached to his boys on the trip up to the State Tournament during the long bus ride from the tiny town of Annapolis to Springfield, MO. His words were heard loud and clear, as the Panthers executed his message to perfection and collected yet another ring.

The game didn’t start out so easy though. The Hornets jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, going up 14-10. Starting slow out of the gate is not typical Panther basketball, but it can be like quicksand if it isn’t rectified.

Things would get tougher before they got better in the second quarter, as St. Elizabeth knocked in 16 and held South Iron to 11. That created a nine-point hole for the Panthers to try and crawl out of, and they went into the locker room down 30-21. Quicksand.

After the break South Iron found themselves down by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, but then something clicked.

R.I.N.G.

The Panther defense stepped up and their pressure forced Hornet turnovers left and right. They won the third quarter battle 14-9 and cut the lead to just four heading into the final eight minutes of regulation.

Defense was critical once again in the fourth quarter. South Iron managed to contain the Hornets and knotted the game at 41-all with a minute left to go. Each team scored another two points after that, and the last two teams in the state in Class 1 were deadlocked at 43-43, and heading to overtime.

No stranger to the extra period, having played four OT games in their last eight trips to the hardwood, the Panthers found their edge in the final four minutes. St. Elizabeth struck first with a two-point make from the field, but the Panthers roared back. They went on a run, scoring the next 11 points, and creating the separation they had been searching for all game.

Goodbye quicksand. Hello ring.

Free throws were huge, as St. Elizabeth’s struggles at the line led to overtime, and the Panthers’ success in the extra period proved vital. South Iron hit a pair of buckets and went 9-of-11 at the line in OT, after forcing several turnovers and causing the Hornets to foul constantly.

With a sizable lead and accuracy from the charity stripe, the Panthers were able to outlast their opponents and rolled to a 56-47 victory. And a third straight State Championship.

Kolton Dinkins lead all scorers with 19 points, had five rebounds, three steals and went a critical 3-of-4 from the line. Jermartez Burse filled up the box score and eared the game’s only double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He also had three assists and was money from the stripe, hitting five of six shots. Sawyer Huff and Jermarquis Burse each had six points in the win and Hunter Huff had six rebounds.

Respond to adversity? Check.

Intangibles? Check.

Next play now? Check.

Grit? Check.

With all the boxes checked, the Panthers earned another ring and found the most exciting and impressive way to close out what was a truly incredible season. Congratulations to all the players and coaches for their unrelenting hard work, tenacity and perseverance. This is a very special team, within a very special program.

The handshakes in Annapolis will be much heavier moving forward. Champs Champs Champs!

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