The PBL Panthers' boy's basketball team defeated Watseka during their senior night face off on Friday night. The final score was 54-32.
The Warriors found themselves on the board first to start the game with successful free throw shots from Maddux Rigsby to put Watseka up 2-0. Those points were returned with two points from PBL's Gunner Belt to tie the game up 2-2. A layup from Rigsby at 5:14 on the clock once again gave Watseka the lead but was cut short with a shot by the Panthers' Dalton Busboom to put the score at 4-4. PBL's Trey VanWinkle was then fouled and sent to the line to make one of two free-throw attempts, giving the Panthers the lead 5-4. The Panthers were then able to maintain that lead to run out the quarter 9-7 over Watseka.
In quarter two, Busboom was able to grab a layup before Watseka's Brayden Haines returned the favor with two points of his own to make the score 11-9. From there, the Panthers were able to put up another 17 points while holding Watseka to just three and ending the half with a score of 28-12.
The Panthers continued their run in quarters three and four, holding off Watseka 48-21 in the third quarter and ending the game 54-32.
PBL head coach Adam Schonauer said the early lead is what allowed for the team to pick up the win.
"We were able to pressure them and get some turnovers," he said. "We also did a good job offensively, manufacturing some points. We didn't shoot extremely well but we were able to get some points in other ways."
The team lost to Effingham 63-38 on Saturday, effectively ending their ten-game winning streak.
"We were a little bit sluggish against Effingham," said Schonauer. "They were a little bit more athletic than us and they shot the ball well. So, when you have a really good basketball team and you don't come ready to play the game can get away from you really quickly."
The team is now looking to take on rival team the Cissna Park Timberwolves on Feb. 21 to end their season regular season play, a game which Schonauer said his team is looking forward to.
"I'm expecting it to be a hard-fought battle at their place. They're well-coached and will be prepared. It's a little bit of a rivalry so they're going to be ready to play. I expect it to be a packed house with that community and the pride they have in their program. So, it'll be a fun game for our kids to end the regular season with."
The Panthers will also host this year's regional tournament and are seeded to take on the winner of the Hoopeston and Watseka game in the semifinals. The team will one full week of practice before the semi-final game and Schonauer is looking to use that to his advantage.
"We'll have the opportunity to get some practices in before we play, so we get to clean some things up. Hopefully, we'll be firing at all cylinders."