SHENANDOAH – The Creston Panthers boys basketball team snuck out of Shenandoah with its first win of the season, 39-36 Tuesday evening.
Cole Higgins and Evan Jacobson led the way for the Panthers offensively with a combined 25 of the team’s 39 points.
“In the first half Evan really carried us on offense,” said Creston head coach Taylor Phipps. “In the second half Cole Higgins definitely stepped up and started finishing. He’s one of our best guys at penetrating in the lane and I thought he did a really good job of finishing in the second half.”
Phipps was pleased with the way the Panthers were able to lock down Shenandoah defensively after giving up an average of 72 points per game in the teams first two contests.
“We came out and mixed up our defenses a little bit and kind of had them off balance,” said Phipps. “I thought we did a good job of hustling around and limiting their second chance points for the most part.”
The Panthers led by three possessions in the final half of the fourth quarter before letting the Mustangs close the gap.
But, the Panthers never surrendered the lead.
Creston’s different defensive looks consisted of pressing the Mustangs early, before backing off and playing physical defense in the second half.
Jaden Driskell led the team with seven rebounds and “played a key role in the middle of our defense,” said Phipps.
The Panther offense is still searching for that breakout game.
Phipps noted that they didn’t shoot as well as they wanted to, but knows a win is a win.
Creston was only able to get to the free throw line twice, going 2 of 3 from the stripe.
Phipps thinks that the Panthers are starting to get better conditioned to running with six or seven players for now.
“I thought they handled it well,” Phipps said. “I don’t think I subbed Evan out the whole game ... The way we’re built right now we just need to keep grinding and keep working hard.”
Eli Loudon had a couple of key offensive putbacks, giving the Panthers some crucial second chance points in the second half. He finished the game with six points, all of which came after halftime.
Cael Kralik had six points of his own.
UP NEXT – The Panthers (1-2, 0-1) travel to face conference foe Atlantic (1-2) on Friday.
Creston (FG FT PTS) – Cole Higgins 7 0-0 14, Evan Jacobson 5 0-1 11, Cael Kralik 2 2-2 6, Eli Loudon 3 0-0 6, Dustin Merritt 1 0-0 2. Totals – 18 2-3 39. 3-point goals – 1 (Jacobson).