Panthers end losing streak in the Battle of the Bubble


Aelise Gagliano

A Panther player drives to the basket against the Chiefs during the Battle of the Bubble. After losing to their rival all three times a season ago, the Panthers defeated the Chiefs in this season’s first meeting between the two teams.

Rilee Stapleton, Staff Writer

The Panthers came into this year with a goal of defeating cross-town rival McIntosh, something the team did not manage to do in three attempts last season. Starr’s Mill accomplished that goal in only the third game of this season, as they beat the Chiefs 66-61 Tuesday night. The Panthers improved to 3-1 overall, and 1-0 in the region. McIntosh, however, fell to 2-5, 1-1 in the region.

“This is a big rivalry,” head coach Brandon Hutchins said. “We’ve had this [game] circled on our calendar for a while.”

Aelise Gagliano
A Panther player battles for a rebound after a missed shot. The Panthers won the rebounding battle 34-18. Fourteen of the Panthers’ rebounds came from junior Drew Hudson, who notched his second double-double of the year.

Junior Zach Pina led the Panthers with 20 points on 6-9 shooting, and 3-5 beyond the arc. Fellow junior Drew Hudson scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. The Panthers shot 59 percent from the field, and 42 percent from deep. However, the Panthers only forced 10 turnovers while turning the ball over 24 times themselves.

Sophomore Bruce Carpenter scored the most points of any Chief with 12. Junior guard Chaz Hardin scored 11 points while dishing out five assists and snatching three steals. McIntosh shot an efficient 55 percent from the field, but they couldn’t connect on their three pointers, going 4-26. Even though they won the turnover battle, they were out-rebounded 34-18.

“Every time I play McIntosh, I feel like the basket is huge,” Pina said. “I just feel like I’m gonna hit everything, so I try to have that mentality when I get out there.”

McIntosh started hot after Hardin hit two threes to give the Chiefs an early 6-2 lead, but the Panthers answered in what was a back-and-forth first quarter. The Chiefs ran a full court press that the Panthers struggled with early on, but as Starr’s Mill figured it out, they slowly built a lead. The fast-paced quarter ended with the Panthers up 23-19.

The Panthers used the second quarter to separate themselves from the Chiefs. Several runs increased the Panthers’ lead, extending their advantage to 17 points at one point during the second quarter. Ultimately, the Panthers went into half with a 42-31 lead.

Aelise Gagliano
A Panther guard scans the Chief defense during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game. Even though they had 24 turnovers, the Panthers’ free throw shooting protected their lead during the fourth quarter and sealed the 66-61 victory.

“We just needed to keep executing,” Hutchins said. “We were prepared for what they were gonna throw at us.”

The Chiefs wouldn’t go down without a fight, as their press forced turnovers, and they suddenly clawed back. McIntosh had 11 steals as a team, and used their defensive pressure to force many more turnovers. The Chiefs outscored the Panthers 19-13 in the third quarter to bring the score to 55-50 going into the final quarter of play.

McIntosh had one more quarter to complete their comeback, while the Panthers sat eight minutes away from ending their 6-game losing streak to their rival. The teams traded baskets, and as the period wore on, the Chiefs started to enter foul trouble. Senior Chief Joseph Cummings eventually fouled out, while Hardin and senior Will Stowman were both close to leaving early.

Starr’s Mill went 11-15 from the free throw line, knocking down multiple free shots to close out the game. Both teams scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, and the Panthers captured a 66-61 victory over McIntosh.

“In previous years, we never had a team with chemistry,” Pina said. “This year, we know we can have something special.”

The Panthers continue their region play with a matchup at Whitewater on Dec. 9, and a Dec. 10 home game against the Morrow Mustangs. The Wildcats have a 2-5 record, and are winless in the region, while Morrow is 2-2, and 1-1 in the region.