CARTERVILLE — The battle for sole possession of first place in the SIRR Mississippi Division was a close ball game for a while, but Pinckneyville ran away with it in the second half.

The Panthers used a 14-point run to the end the third quarter and defeated Carterville, 58-33, Saturday night in boys prep basketball.

“I just think it’s a process of knowing it’s a 32-minute game,” said Pinckneyville coach Bob Waggoner. “I thought early in the game, we did a lot of the hard work, but we weren’t getting any of the reward for it. We eventually thought they would wear down, and we’d get some easy opportunities for scoring, and we did.”

Taylor Heil threw down a two-handed dunk to give Carterville a 31-30 lead with 3:15 on the clock in the third quarter. But Grant Jausel started and finished the 14-0 streak for Pinckneyville with 3-pointers.

The Panthers held the Lions to just two points over the final 11 minutes of action.

“That was a big momentum shift, but I really looked at our kids, and there was never any panic,” Waggoner said. “When they made the dunk, we came right back at them. Realistically, I thought once we could get the lead, where we made that little run at them with our bench players, it was one of those things where they were going to have to chase us, and I didn’t think they had the legs left to do that.”

J.C. Moll converted a three-point play in the fourth quarter, which gave the Panthers a commanding 19-point advantage.

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“We scored 10 points in the second half, and that can’t happen,” said Carterville coach Shane Hawkins. “We made a lot of mistakes. I thought our halfcourt defense was pretty good. But we made some bad decisions, and all that stuff adds up.”

Heil’s dunk was Carterville’s final field goal of the game. Outside of Luke Ford, who scored 12 points, the Lions simply couldn’t find much offense from anyone else.

Jausel led all scorers with 20 points and was a key contributor during Pinckneyville’s big run.

“He is really turning into a complete player,” Waggoner said of Jausel. “His defense has gotten better, but most people are noticing his offensive skill. He’s rebounding better, and he’s becoming a complete player.”

Tyler Rulevish added 11 points for the Panthers, and Heil tallied eight for Carterville.

Pinckneyville improved to 15-1 overall and 5-0 in league play. Carterville fell to 11-6 and 4-1.

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