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Thunderbirds fall on late shot

February 11, 2016
By Matt Spielman (editorial@westfieldrepublican.com) , Westfield Republican

PANAMA (Feb. 4) - Josh Odell didn't play his best game. For most of Panama's non-league contest against Chautauqua Lake it didn't matter.

But with the game tied late, Odell came up huge.

The 5-foot 8-inch senior guard hit a 3-pointer to break a 59-all tie with 20 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 63-61 win.

Article Photos

Photo by Matt Spielman
Chautauqua Lake’s Aaron Swan (21) takes a shot during a non-league boys high school basketball game against Panama.

"I like those moments. I like shooting it when it's close at the end," Odell said. "I'm confident in myself and I know I'm going to hit it."

"He's probably my favorite player not on my team. I just think the world of him," Chautauqua Lake coach Mike Putney said of Odell. "His work ethic is outstanding. He didn't let the frustration get to him. He never showed it on the court. When his name was called to hit the big shot, he hit it."

Although Panama led by 18 after three quarters, it turned into the kind of non-league slugfest that good teams hope for heading into the sectional playoffs.

"Looking at our schedule a long time ago, we finish with three great teams," Putney said about finishing with Panama, Dunkirk and Olean. "Going into playoffs that's what you want."

Trailing, 53-35, the Thunderbirds opened the fourth quarter on an 9-0 run that kicked off with a Carter Davidson 3-pointer.

Panama's Josh Eddy hit a free throw then followed up his own missed free throw with a putback to take a 56-44 lead with 5:25 remaining.

But two more Davidson 3-pointers - including a long one with the 6-foot 7-inch Eddy in his face - highlighted a 12-1 Chautauqua Lake run that brought the guests within a point with 1:33 remaining.

"Carter Davidson stepped up and hit some big shots," Putney said. "I don't care where Carter is on the floor, he has the green light from where ever he wants. He's shown that his 3-point shot is just killer."

Blose hit a pair of free throws to give the Panthers a three-point lead, but the Thunderbirds' Tyler Meredith grabbed an offensive rebound and found Aaron Swan for a 3-pointer to tie the game with 45 seconds remaining.

Panama ran through its offense before the ball eventually found Odell on the wing and the senior hit a tightly contested 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 62-59 lead.

"We were trying to spread them out a little bit. They are very long, their arms are long and it's hard to pass in those lanes," Nelson said. "We reversed the basketball and found him open. He's one shooter that you don't want to leave open with space."

After a timeout, Chautauqua Lake missed a 3-pointer before Nate Hammond scored on a putback with 2.3 seconds left. Blose hit the front end of a 1-and-1, but Chautauqua Lake didn't get a shot off after rebounding a miss on the second attempt.

The Thunderbirds led 7-2 early, but a 16-2 run led by a pair of 3-pointers from Jack Payne helped Panama - the No. 13 Class D team in the state according to the New York State Sportswriters Association - lead 16-7 after the first quarter.

"When we scheduled these guys a year ago we knew they were going to have a real decent basketball team," Nelson said. "They switched that defense up on us, stuck that 1-3-1 in there and we got a little stagnant."

Chautauqua Lake - which has been in and out of the Class C rankings as an honorable-mention selection the past few weeks - started to find its stride in the second quarter, but Blose controlled the game for the Panthers scoring 18 of his game-high 23 points in the middle two quarters.

"We try to get space with dribble penetration into the paint," Nelson said. "Christopher knew the guy guarding him had three fouls, was aggressive and kept attacking him. They were collapsing down on defense and we got some kicks out for 3-pointers."

Davidson led the Thunderbirds (12-6, 6-4 Division 1 West) with 16 points while Devin Pope had 13 points. Aaron Swan had 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists, Tyler Meredith grabbed 11 rebounds and Nate Hammond had seven rebounds.

For the Panthers (16-2, 11-0 Division 2 West) Eddy had 14 points and 13 rebounds, Blose added 10 rebounds and six assists, and Payne had 14 points, six rebounds and four steals.

"We're hoping to win Section VI this year," Odell said. "That's what our goal has been and we'll keep going from there hopefully."

NOTES: Joel Vinciguerra contributed seven points and three offensive rebounds off the bench for Chautauqua Lake. ... The Thunderbirds shot 24 of 66, including 7 of 20 from 3-point range, and grabbed a season-high 26 offensive rebounds. ... Chautauqua Lake won the jayvee game, 62-52, behind 16 points from Kyler Majka, 12 points from Collin Wood and 12 points from Brian Anderson. Mitchell Hover led the Panthers with 12 points and Thomas Delahoy had 11.

 
 
 

 

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