By Chad Dixon
The Smiths Station Panthers (10-2) watched as Park Crossing won the previous two Panther Holiday Classics. This made the Panthers’ 72-59 overtime win over Park Crossing on December 16 very “sweet” according to Smiths Station Boys’ Coach Stephen Davis.
“It was very satisfying,” Davis said. “Many of these kids have come just short in the past few seasons and being able to pair up with Park Crossing in the championship game was plenty of motivation.”
The Panthers defeated Notasulga 62-30 on Friday, December 15 at the Smiths Station High School gymnasium in the second round of the tournament. Smiths Station separated themselves early with a 23-point first quarter and held their opponent to just two points. Stevie Pringle scored three-three pointers and scored 11 points in the opening quarter. Peanut Thomas scored a pair of three pointers in the second quarter and Jonathan Taylor scored five points. The Panthers led at the half 41-14. Pringle scored 21 points in the game with 13 rebounds. Taylor also scored in double digits with 11 points.
Pringle scored 31 points with another double-double as he was named tournament Most Valuable Player. He scored 12 in the first quarter of the title game; the Panthers closed the first quarter against Park Crossing with a 20-17 lead. The Panthers would hold Park Crossing to just five points in the second quarter and led 35-22 at the half. Park Crossing would explode for 23 points in the third quarter and lead by 11 going into the fourth quarter. Pringle and Thomas combined for 12 points in the final quarter of regulation to help Smiths Station tie Park Crossing at 55 at the end of the fourth.
The Panthers would go on a 14-2 run to start overtime. Pringle scored nine points with a three-pointer and was 2-for-2 at the free throw line in overtime. The Blue Devils’ Head Coach Cliff Knight was ejected from the game with 1:23 remaining on the clock as the Panthers led 72-59. Park Crossing left the court and once the clock reached zero, the Panthers were named winners of the 2017 Panther Holiday Classic.
“It was a big win for us and I think it gives us a lot of momentum going into the rest of our schedule I was really satisfied with over 90 rebounds in two games,” Davis added. The Panthers will host Beauregard on January 2nd ahead of their region opener at Central High School on January 5th.