Panthers Roll to 64th Annual Bob Sechrest Tournament Title
The South Iron Panthers came into the Christmas Tournament with a lot of hype after capturing the Thanksgiving Tournament championship in Arcadia Valley.
The Panthers received the number 1 seed despite being the only Class 1 team in the 16 team field - which was loaded with Class 4 teams. The Panthers aren't your ordinary Class 1 team though. They are loaded with rich basketball tradition being able to get to the tournament championship last year where they came up short.South Iron wanted to bring the golden ball back to Annapolis, Missouri.
Although South Iron has won this tournament 6 previous times, it had been awhile since they were able to seal the deal. The last time the Panthers were able to win this tournament was 12 years ago back in 2007. The Panthers are loaded with talent this year as they bring back the majority of their team from last year. They are firing on all cylinders under 17th year head coach, Dusty Dinkins, as the Panthers were ranked 3rd in the state coming into the tournament. The Panthers came into the the championship game turbo clocking each of their first 3 opponents, but the championship game everyone knew would be a little different because the opponent was the home team, the Park Hills Central Rebels. The Rebels were 7-2 and led by Missouri State hall of fame inductee, Alan Davis.
As the crowd started to fill in for the championship game you could feel the atmosphere starting to build - every seat taken and standing about 2 deep around the railing of the gym with multiple radio stations and Earl Austin from Prep Hoops Missouri there to live broadcast. You knew that this one had all the makings of a must see game loaded with talent from both teams. Park Hills Central featuring senior Breven Mcmullen, senior Brent Wagner, and talented freshman Mason Williams and South Iron featuring 3 highly talented players themselves led by junior Brock Wakefield and sophomores Drenin Dinkins and D.J. Prater.
From the opening tip it was a back and forth first quarter as both teams were making things very difficult on the opposing offense with very stingy defense. The home team, Central, hit a few more shots through the first quarter to hold a 17-12 lead after one quarter of play. As the second quarter began the Panthers began to counter punch with some high level play by their very talented guards Brock Wakefield and Drenin Dinkins, not only scoring themselves, but setting up teammates with some great finds for easy buckets. At the break halfway through the Panthers had flipped the game to a 30-27 Panther lead. The third quarter was much like the second as the Panthers began to press and turn the Rebels over. They began to grind the lead out to a 47-39 lead after 3. The fourth quarter began with a run by the Rebels to cut it to 4, but the Panthers were not going to lay down in any way, as they knew they had worked so hard in the second and the third to build a hard fought lead. They dug in and began to push back with some hot 3 point shooting, including 3's by senior Jacob Howell and sophomore Champ McMurry, who both finished with a pair of huge 3s for the game and work around the rim to go on a patented Panther run of their own - stretching the lead to as many as 19. They closed the game in the right way to capture their 7th Christmas tournament title. The Panthers were led in scoring by sophomore Drenin Dinkins with 25pts, Junior Brock Wakefield with 22 pts, and sophomore D.J. Prater with 12 pts. The Panthers run their record to 11-0 to start the season.
The Panthers (11-0) will be back in action on January 7th @ home against the Bunker Eagles (6-2) at 6:00 pm.