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Wildcats lose in semifinal

February 25, 2016
By Scott Kindberg ( , Westfield Republican

The Section VI Class D semifinal in hand, Panama basketball coach Ed Nelson took his starters out of the game to a loud ovation from their fans, who helped fill the Physical Education Complex at Jamestown Community College on Monday night.

The last to leave the court was Chris Blose.

His smile told the rest of the story.

Blose scored 22 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out five assists and added a steal to lead the top-seeded Panthers to a 65-44 victory over No. 4 Sherman and earn a berth in the sectional title game.

"Both are quality basketball teams," Nelson said.

So, too, are the Panthers.

Josh Eddy added 18 points and pulled down 17 rebounds, while Josh Odell chipped in 14 points and Jack Payne added eight as Panama pulled way in the second quarter, led 37-20 at the break and showed why they're ranked 10th in the New York State Sportswriters Association poll.

"Our motto this year from Day One has been to be as good as we can be," Nelson said.

After a close first quarter - Payne's jumper off the glass in the closing seconds gave Panama 15-10 lead - the Panthers went on a 22-10 run in the second period to confirm that motto. Blose led the rally with 10 points and Odell added eight.

For the Wildcats (12-10), it was too much to overcome.

Struggling from the field the entire game - they shot just 5 of 24 in the first half - they fell to the Panthers for the third time this season.

"Their senior leadership kind of showed," said Sherman coach Cory Emory, who starts three juniors and a sophomore. "We got a little flustered."

The Wildcats were led, as they've been all season, by junior Chris Robson, who poured in a game-high 28 points, but no one else was in double figures. For the game, Sherman shot just 15 of 51 from the floor.

"Our first goal is always to win a sectional title," said Emory, who is in his 19th season. "I'm proud of them. They improved as the season went on. We got better at our weaknesses, but we just ran into a very good Panama team."

The fact the Panthers have advanced to the sectional title game is hardly a surprise. Their only losses have been to Chautauqua Lake and Randolph in their first and third games of the year. Since then, the Panthers have run the table.

"When they were in eighth grade," Nelson said, "they used to come in and beat our varsity guys."

At the time, Nelson, now in his ninth year, used to get mad, but it was merely a foreshadowing of things to come. Now it's on to Friday for a team that features 12th-graders in all five starting roles.

"There's nothing like a senior," Nelson said.



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