Pana freshmen went off to the Hillsboro Freshman Tournament and came with a trophy, after a 3-0 sweep of the competition.

Pana crunched Alton Marquette, 67-27, bested Taylorville by double digits, 61-50, and nipped Greenville, 41-38 (a rivalry rematch of last year’s Pana 8th grade OT regional victory).

Four Panthers were in double figures in the blowout of Alton. Frank Schmitz led the way with 18 points and Justin Vernon was right behind him with 17, off of a trey hat trick. The second tier of offensive firepower came in at 11 and 10 points, from Ian Weddle ( 2 treys) and Eric Miller, respectively.

The Panthers staggered Alton in the first period with a 24-point burst and dialed it down a little in the second quarter, but still scoring 13. They rolled again in the third with a 23-point assault. Calling off the dogs in the fourth still produced a 15-point quarter as a runaway train takes time to stop.

Free throws were not an issue as the Pana Express rolled along, shooting just five free throws and making two. The Panthers had direct hits on 28 two-pointers and launched a successful sortie of six three’s.

Pana v. Alton stats: Schmitz 18 (9 FG’s), Vernon 17 (4-2’s, 3-3 FG’s), Ian Weddle 11 (2-2’s, 2-3 FG’s, 1/2 FT’s), E. Miller 10 (5 FG’s), Xavier Rice 7 (2-2’s, 1-3 FG’s), Derek Beyers 4 ( 2 FG’s). Team free throws 2-of-5. 3-pointers: Vernon 3, Weddle 2, Rice 1.

Against Taylorville Frank Schmitz was on fire again, scoring 22 points, with another 9-field goal performance. But this time, he added 4-of-7 free throws. Beyers followed with 14 points, while Eric Miller just missed double digits with nine points.

Pana opened with a 17-point quarter and dialed it down again to 13. But the third wasn’t a home run, as they scored 14 points. But down the stretch the Panthers picked up 17 points for a strong finish.

Pana shot two free throws in the first half off one trip to the stripe. But in the second half, they went to the line eleven times, shooting 20 and making 13. They made 14 free throws in an eleven-point win and only connected twice from 3-point land.

Pana v. Taylorville stats: Schmitz 22 (9 FG’s, 4/7 FT’s), Beyers 14 (5 FG’s, 4/6 FT’s), E. Miller 9 (1-3 FG, 4/6 FT’s), David Maziarz 8 (3 FG’s, 2/2 FT’s), Vernon 6 (3 FG’s), W. Miller 4 (1-3 FG, 1/2 FT’s). Team free throws 15-of-23. 3-pointers: E. Miller 1, Wes Miller 1.

In the more defensive struggle with Greenville, the Panthers emerged with a slight 3-point advantage after another tight game that came down to the wire between the Panthers and the Comets.

Justin Vernon gutted out 14 team-high points, followed by Eric Miller with an even ten. Schmitz, who had rolled in the two previous games, was limited to just two buckets, but they came at a good time, crunch time. In fact, Schmitz’ two buckets were the only Pana baskets in the fourth and made a huge difference in the game.

Vernon and Miller’s points came in the first half for the most part (Vernon 9-of-13, Miller 5-of-10) and gave Pana a foundation from which to score the critical winning points late. Vernon ended his first half scoring with a trey and then opened the third with a triple, but then was held scoreless the rest of the way.

Pana v. Greenville stats: Vernon 14 (3-2’s, 2-3 FG’s, 3/5 FT’s), E. Miller 10 (4 FG’s, 2/3 FT’s), Maziarz 7 (3 FG’s, 1/2 FT’s), Beyers 6 (2 FG’s, 2/3 FT’s), Schmitz 4 (2 FG’s). Team free throws 8-of-13. 3-pointers: Vernon 2.

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