Panthers on the prowl
OKABENA -- The upset-minded Quasars played the visiting Panthers even through 23 minutes of Friday's Red Rock Conference opener for both teams, but Ellsworth -- sparked by the perimeter shooting of Aaron Van Der Stoep -- finished off Southwest St...
OKABENA -- The upset-minded Quasars played the visiting Panthers even through 23 minutes of Friday's Red Rock Conference opener for both teams, but Ellsworth -- sparked by the perimeter shooting of Aaron Van Der Stoep -- finished off Southwest Star Concept with a 35-18 second-half run to pull away for a 64-41 victory.
With the victory, the Panthers improve to 1-0 on the year, while the loss drops the Quasars to 2-1 on the season.
Ahead by a single point, 29-28, three minutes into the second half, the Panthers began to fire on all cylinders, scoring points in the paint as well as from the outside. With Ellsworth ahead 33-30, the Panthers went on a 20-6 run to put the game away.
Van Der Stoep led all scorers with 23 points on the night, followed by Cody Schilling with 18 points, six rebounds, seven assists and five steals for the Panthers.
The Quasars' 6-11 post James Granstra finished the contest with 10 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots.
From the opening tip-off, the Panthers main concern was to deny Granstra the ball down low. The game plan didn't work well to begin with as the big man scored the Quasars' first four points. But as the game progressed, the Panthers' 1-3-1 zone defense kept Granstra from getting to the basket with any regularity.
"That was our main focus defensively," Ellsworth head coach Markus Okeson said following the game. "We tried to surround him and let the other guys beat us."
The other guys did a fair job of knocking down shots in the first half. James Anderson (six points) drilled consecutive 3-pointers, followed by a Tyler Timko dribble-drive layup midway through the opening frame, to pull the Quasars even at 20-all.
The Panthers countered with a long range bomb from Weston DeBerg (seven points) to help Ellsworth finish the half on a 9-3 run to take a 29-23 lead into intermission.
An inside bucket by Lloyd Kalfs (four points) and a 3-pointer from Trevor Leopold pulled the quasars within one at 29-28 to open the second half. That's when the bottom fell out for SSC.
Van Der Stoep connected on a trey and a mid-range jumper for a quick five points. The senior marksman then dropped another bomb and was fouled in the process, which he later converted into a four-point play.
"The penetration in the second half was beautiful and help ed set me up on the outside," Van Der Stoep said. "When he (Schilling) goes to the rack, they all collapse on him -- leaving me opening for a shot."
Schilling, who served as playmaker for the Panthers all night, started pushing the ball toward Granstra in the second half. With a keen eye and quick hands, the junior slipped the ball to a slashing Travis Chapa or kicked it out to Van Der Stoep or DeBerg on the perimeter. As the second half progressed, the Panthers were deadly from both positions on the floor.
"We can score points, but we just had to stop them first," Schilling said. "That helped open things up offensively in the second half. It was a great team effort all the way around."
As the Panthers started to pull away, the Quasars tried to get back points in a hurry -- launching several 3-pointers that were unfortunately off the mark.
"We broke down defensively on several off their possessions midway through the second half," SSC head coach Tim Owen said. "Our weak-side help was non-existent, and then they got on a roll."
The Panthers will host Southwest Christian on Thursday, while SSC travels to Westbrook-Walnut Grove.
Ellsworth 29 35 -- 64
SSC 23 18 -- 41
Ellsworth (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Van Der Stoep 6-1-3-23, Schilling 1-2-11-18, Chapa 0-3-3-9, DeBerg 1-2-0-7, Klaassen 0-1-3-5, Hinrichs 0-1-0-2. Totals: 8-10-21-64.
SSC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP): Granstra 0-5-0-10, Anderson 2-0-0-6, Kalfs 0-2-0-4, Ferguson 0-2-0-4, Timko 0-1-0-2, Scheevel 0-2-1-5, Haberman 1-0-0-3, McBreen 0-1-0-2, Leopold 1-1-0-5. Totals: 4-14-1-41.