Pana destroyed Litchfield the first time they played, 74-41. But on Tuesday, Litchfield caught Pana by surprise and were still in the game at the end. Litchfield's Valentine got the ball down by two and hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Litchfield win, 62-61.

The scores was tied a 59-59 when Derek Ade made a 15-foot shot with 3 seconds left. Litchfield threw the ball in called time and got the ball on the side with 1.7 second to play. The ball came to Valentine, who fumbled it, then grabbed it and threw it up at the basket. It banked in for a 3-pointer.

"We never should have put ourselves in that position," said Pana coach Gary Bowker. "We need to play with heart and intensity on every possession right from the start. Right now, we aren't doing that. Clint Epley hit a lot of big shots on his way to 28 points. Nick Spracklen led us in rebounds (6)."

Pana only scored ten points in the first period and the second period and still trailed by two at the break, 22-20. Pana finally got going in the third, but still fell beind by four points, because they couldn't stop Litchfield from scoring 22 points. Pana tried to win at the finish line, but once again, they couldn't stop Litchfield, even on the final Hail Mary.

Clint Epley did more than his share in this game. He led Pana in scoring in the first period, in the second period, in the third period and in the fourth period. He had at least one 3-pointer in each quarter. He opened his scoring with a deuce and a trey in the first, half of Pana's first quarter points. Epley had a solo trey in the second and Max Schmitz had a deuce and 1-of-2 free throws as the Pana leaders in that meager period.

Epley nailed a trey and a deuce in the third, was matched in leading Pana by Lucas Rochkes, who had two buckets and 1-of-2 foul shooting. In crunch time, Epley scored 15 of his 28 points, and 15 of Pana's 21 points in the period.

Epley had a trey and then converted a 3-point play. Epley then made another deuce and a trey. He had a 2-of-2 trip to the line and made another deuce. The only other Pana points with the game on the line were solo twos by Ade and Phillip Arnold. Ade finally made just his second basket of the final 8:00, with 7 seconds left.

Pana left the door open for the upset throughout the whole game and left it ajar even at the end.

The Panthers (19-7, 6-5 SCC) finish the regular season at home on Friday against Piasa, then on Saturday against Vandalia. Pana then heads to the Vandalia 2A Regional to play Greenville in a semifinal next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The last time they played, Greenville beat Pana the same way Litchfield did. Pana beat Greenville, 76-47 the first time, then lost by six just last week.

Litchfield 62, Pana 61

Pana 10-10-20-21—61

L'field 12-10-22-18—62

Pana stats: Clint Epley 28 (5-2s, 5-3 pt FGs, 3/3 FTs), Philip Arnold 7 (2 FGs, 3/3 FTs), Jake Adcock 6 (3 FGs, 0/1 FTs), Derek Ade 6 (3 FGs), Lucas Rochkes 5 (2 FGs, 1/2 FTs), Nick Spracklen 4 (2 FGs, 0/1 FTs), Max Schmitz 3 (FG, 1/2 FTs), Jared McMillen 2 (FG, 0/2 FTs). Team FGs 24 (5-3 pt: Epley 5). Team FTs 8-of-14.

L'field stats: Stokes18 (3-2s, 3-3 pt FGs, 3/4 FTs), Z. Wilkinson 17 (6 FGs, 5/6 FTs), Treece 13 (4 FGs, 5/7 FTs), Valentine 10 (2-2s, 1-3 pt FGs, 3/6 FTs), M. Wilkinson 4 (2 FGs). Team FGs 20 (4-3 pt: Stokes 3, Valentine). Team FTs 15-of-23.

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