Gone with the wind

Panthers out-matched in 3rd quarter, season ends in region tournament


Annika Pepper

Senior Zac Cerniglia in tears on the bench in the final minutes of the first round region tournament match against the Jonesboro Cardinals. Cerniglia scored two points in his final game. The Panthers lost control in the third quarter to lose to Jonesboro by a final score of 60-42. The 2019-2020 boys’ basketball team becomes the first team in Starr’s Mill history to lose all region games in their schedule.

One half into Tuesday’s first round region tournament match against Jonesboro, it looked like the game was going to remain a tight contest. Once the third quarter began, Jonesboro shut down the Panther offense and dropped buckets on their defense, out-scoring the Panthers 17-2 in the quarter en route to a 60-42 win. 

Bekah Algaze

“We kinda hit a dry spell [in the third quarter],” head coach Josh Reeves said. “[Jonesboro] came out swinging, we came out a little low energy.”

Sophomore Malachi Townsend lead the team in points with 13. Seniors Reese Clevenger and Camden Sutherland had the second and third most points in the final game with nine and three.

Jonesboro had many players that came ready to play. Leading the charge was senior Jared Rodgers with 22 points. Behind him were senior Quinn Thomas with ten points and junior Jydon Hall with eight points.

“We kinda hit a dry spell [in the third quarter],” head coach Josh Reeves said. “[Jonesboro] came out swinging, we came out a little low energy.”

In the first quarter, the Panther defense was able to put a fair amount of pressure on Jonesboro to prevent much scoring. The Panther offense pushed for points within the paint. Townsend produced eight points in the first quarter. Unfortunately, he was benched due to foul trouble and would not come back until midway through the second quarter.

Hillary Baidoo
Sophomore Malachi Townsend drives in the paint for a layup. Townsend led the Panthers in scoring with 13 points. Townsend was benched due to foul trouble near the end of the first quarter after scoring eight points straight points to begin the game.

“[Getting benched] was my fault because I was in foul trouble,” Townsend said. “I gotta bring [myself] outta foul trouble next year. It’s all my bad.”

While he was gone, the Starr’s Mill offense went cold as the team nearly surrendered a five-point lead in the final minute. The first quarter ended with Starr’s Mill leading 13-12.

Jonesboro began to push harder in the paint to begin the second quarter. The Cardinals starting exposing cracks in the Panther defense, scoring 24 points in the quarter. Starr’s Mill was not able to outshoot Jonesboro, but they did score 14 points in the quarter. By the end of the opening half Jonesboro held a slight lead, 33-27.

Jonesboro went on a 8-0 scoring run within the first 90 seconds of the second half. Starr’s Mill was beaten down and exposed all throughout the quarter.

“We tried to call a timeout but we were already down six at that point,” Reeves said. “We had to try and fire [the boys] up, but from that point on we kinda just played even with [Jonesboro] for the rest of the way.”

We had to try and fire [the boys] up, but from that point on we kinda just played even with [Jonesboro] for the rest of the way.”

— head coach Josh Reeves

Starr’s Mill only managed two points throughout the entire third quarter. On the other hand, Jonesboro scored 17. At the end of the quarter, all of the momentum was in Jonesboro’s favor. They held a 50-29 lead over the Panthers. Despite any efforts, it seemed like the Panthers’ playoff hopes were all but gone with the wind.

Things started coming together for the Panthers in the fourth quarter. They went on a 6-0 run in the first two minutes of the quarter. From there they could not make much progress toward reducing the deficit created in the previous quarter.

“We don’t ever give up, that’s the thing I love about [this team],” Townsend said. “We might be down 30-40. We still don’t give up, try to win every game.”

However, it was not nearly enough to make the comeback they needed. Jonesboro kept a stable amount of production with 12 points in the quarter. Despite fighting until the clock reached triple zeroes, the Panthers were eliminated from the region tournament and ousted from playoff contention with the 60-42 loss.

With this loss, Starr’s Mill will miss the state playoffs. They become the first team since the 2015-2016 girls’ basketball team to miss the state playoffs.

Hillary Baidoo
Senior Zac Cerniglia maneuvers around the court. The Panthers offense struggled to keep up with Jonesboro, being outscored in the second, third, and fourth quarters.

The boys end their season with a final record of 4-21 and 0-13 region. They make history for the only team to go winless in region. Despite the negative turnout, there is still a lot to look forward to next basketball season.

Reeves has proved himself to be an intelligent head coach. He has continued to rally his team despite everything looking bad on the surface level. He also has great talent coming back with Townsend, his brother junior Michael Townsend, and juniors Brandon Allison and Elliot Baker. Things seem to be just beginning for a new age of Starr’s Mill boys’ basketball.

“I grade the end of [our season] an F. I grade our effort an A all across the board because we worked hard every single time,” Reeves said. “We didn’t finish every time like we wanted to but, like I said, our boys played hard every time, so I give them an A for effort every time…I wish we could have finished more games.”

Winning this game, Jonesboro advanced to the region semifinal where they lost to Riverdale. Riverdale will play Griffin for the Region 3-AAAAA championship tonight starting at 8:30 p.m.