Panthers take care of Sparta, move on to Regional championship

Head coach Bob Waggoner will lead the Panthers into Friday's championship where Pinckneyville will be looking for their fourth straight Regional title. (Doug Daniels Photos)

By Doug Daniels

1351sports.com / pinckneyvillesports.com

February 21, 2018

  (Pinckneyville, Ill.) - Pinckneyville was heavily favored coming into Tuesday night's Regional semifinal against Sparta, and wasted no time in showing the Bulldogs why. The Panthers came out hot and put up 25 points in the first quarter, 47 in the first half, on their way to a 63-36 victory. PCHS will try for a Regional championship for the fourth consecutive year on Friday night in Thomas Gymnasium.
  "We're just looking forward to playing (Friday night)," said Pinckneyville head coach Bob Waggoner. "Senior oriented team, you know they're going to have great focus, we're just getting ourselves ready to play."

  The Panthers led 7-4 in the opening quarter against Sparta before an 11-0 run more or less put the game away less than five minutes into it. A transition layup by Dawson Yates started the run, followed by a stick-back and a fast-break layup by Kyle Luke, then Tanner Spihlmann scored on a put-back and a three to make it 18-4. PCHS would lead by as many as 30 points in the first half.
  "I thought we had good offensive execution and our defense was very good in the first quarter," Waggoner said, "pretty much determined the game in the first quarter, it was over."

  Yates was playing just his second game back after a hip injury. Without him, the Panthers went 3-1, but all four games were close in the final minutes. Since his return, they're 2-0 and have blown out both opponents.
  "We're just trying to get him back stronger and stronger," said Waggoner. "He's still not 100%, but we're trying to work him back in and he continues to get better."
  Grant Jausel led Pinckneyville with 16 points against the Bulldogs, all of them coming in the first half. Six other Panthers scored at least 5 points - J.C. Moll (9), Luke (8), Spihlmann (6), Tyler Rice (6), Yates (5), and Hunter Clark (5). Dylan Houghland (4), Dustin Barnicki (2) and Devin Kitchen (2) also scored for PCHS.

  The top-seeded Panthers (27-3) will meet either No. 4 seed Waterloo (Gibault) or No. 6 seed Red Bud in Friday's Regional championship game, set for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off in Pinckneyville. The winner moves on to the Trenton (Wesclin) Sectional semifinals on Wednesday, February 28 against the winner of the Staunton Regional, where the top seed is Nashville.

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© 2018-19 Doug Daniels Photography