BENTON — The Pinckneyville Panthers flexed their muscles and took care of business on the hardwood Wednesday, cruising past Hamilton County, 54-27, in second-round action of the Benton Invitational Tournament.
With the victory, the Panthers improve to 2-0 in the tourney and 17-3 overall. The Foxes fall to 0-2 in the tourney and 8-12 overall.
The Panthers were never threatened. They jumped out to a 21-9 lead after one period of play and increased the advantage to 23 points by the intermission at 36-13. They grew the lead to 48-18 after three periods, which prompted a continuous running of the clock over the final eight minutes.
"I thought our defensive pressure on the ball was very good tonight," said Pinckneyville head coach Bob Waggoner. "And our trap was especially good."
Waggoner said he believes his ballclub is making steady improvement as the season progresses.
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"I think so. We just need to finish possessions a little better on the offensive end and rebound better on the defensive end. If we can do that, I think we will be a tough out (in the postseason). We are definitely playing better."
Junior center Karsen Konkel led the Panthers' offense Wednesday with 15 points. No other player reached double figures. Senior Pearson Launius contributed nine.
The Foxes were paced by their 6-foot-8 senior center - Wyatt Hamson - who totaled 12 points.
"We got them (Panthers) last year here for like the first time in 20 years, but lost key players from our 29-4 team," said Hamilton County head coach Doug Miller. "Give all the credit to Pinckneyville tonight. They are a very good ballclub and very well coached. We simply couldn't rebound and we couldn't hit our shots. The Panthers had a lot to do with that."
Miller said the schedule has toughened for the Foxes since the holidays.
"We're getting better every day in practice. We just have to keep working at it," Miller said.
The Foxes will take on Benton Friday evening in the third round of the tourney. The Panthers will square off with Sesser-Valier.