Panthers get second shot at Comets
WATSEKA — It’s time for a rematch.
Paxton-Buckley-Loda will meet Clifton Central for the second straight postseason.
This time in a Class 2A Watseka Regional championship game after the second-seeded Panthers beat No. 3 Hoopeston Area 66-45 on Wednesday night.
The Panthers (18-8) will tangle with the Comets — who knocked off PBL in a regional semifinal game last year — at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“Clifton’s shooting the ball really well from the outside,” PBL coach Scot Vogel said. “We’ve got to make sure we do a good job of mixing things up and make sure we don’t let them get comfortable with their outside shooting.”
The Panthers started the second quarter up 17-13 as Tyler Rubarts had eight points in the quarter, including two three-pointers.
The team extended its lead to 33-18 with 2 minutes, 11 seconds left in the first half as Johnny Walder and Jeremy Walder each scored eight points during the 16-5 run.
Jeremy Walder finished with 12 points and Johnny Walder contributed eight points.
In the third quarter, PBL outscored Hoopeston Area 15-8 as Rubarts scored seven more points. Rubarts finished with a team-high 17 points.
“Different guys stepped up at different times (offensively),” Vogel said, “but I thought Tyler was very consistent from start to finish.”
With Brennan Crose — who was “feeling under the weather,” Hoopeston Area coach Matt Colston said — held to six points, Mason Layden scored a game-high 21 points.
“Mason came ready to play. He fought inside and shot the ball well,” Colston said. “We just didn’t get any energy other than that.”
Clifton Central 78, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 52. Early turnovers spelled No. 4-seeded GCMS’ doom in its loss to Clifton Central.
Clifton Central opened the game with 13 unanswered points before Tyler Hinshaw made a layup on a fastbreak, and the Comets went into halftime leading 45-23.
Hinshaw and Ross Royal led GCMS with 14 points each.
“Clifton’s a good team,” GCMS coach Ryan Tompkins said. “We were a little slow-footed early, and their pressure got to us, but our kids played hard.”