By Richard Greene
After falling behind by 10 points early in the second half, Conner Berry drained a three-pointer with 6:02 left Friday to bring his Paradise Panthers within two points of the Peaster Greyhounds.
They turned out to be the last points of the night for the Panthers. Peaster ended the game on a 10-0 run and secured a 37-25 victory at Paradise High School gym.
“Their defense prevents you from doing anything,” said Paradise coach Tim Dukes. “They are a good team. We’re coming along.”
Peaster (18-3) maintained their share of the District 10-2A lead with Brock at 5-0.
The loss ended the Panthers’ two-game winning streak and dropped them to 3-2 in the league and 12-10 overall.
“We’ve now got to play with a chip on our shoulder and play like every game is our last,” said Paradise center Keaton Hickman. “We got to come out with big wins against teams like this.”
The Panthers didn’t make it easy on themselves, missing free throws. Paradise went 5-for-12 from the line with only one of their attempts coming in the fourth quarter.
“The difference in the game was free throws,” Dukes said. “We were 5-for-12. You can’t win close games going 5-for-12.”
From the field, Paradise shot 33 percent, hitting nine of its 27 attempts. The Panthers hit two of their 11 three-point attempts.
“We had real good patience,” said Hickman, who led the Panthers with 10 points and eight rebounds. “We weren’t hitting our outside shots.”
Peaster didn’t fair much better from the field, shooting 35 percent, 12-for-34. The Panthers kept the tempo down and allowed only four points in transition.
“Our plan was to keep it in the 30s and slow them down,” Dukes said.
After Berry’s three-pointer early in the fourth quarter, Peaster’s Ty Ballard hit a trey of his own on the next trip down the floor to stretch the lead back to five, 30-25. Ballard’s three-pointer started the closing run for Peaster that including four free throws from Caleb Davis. He led Peaster with 12 points. Josh Davis added 11 points.
Peaster threatened to pull away early with an 11-1 run in the first quarter to build an 11-3 lead. Two shots from Logan Bailey brought the Panthers back within four by the end of the quarter. Bailey scored six for the Panthers.
Hickman got Paradise within two, 11-9, with 6:20 left in the first half. Peaster went on an 7-1 run to end the half and take an 18-10 halftime lead.
Josh Davis put Peaster up 10, 22-12, 2:15 into the second half. Paradise whittled the deficit back to four with three free throws from Berry and Taylor Choate’s lone basket of the night, a three-pointer.
Berry finished with six points.
Peaster held the four-point edge entering the fourth quarter, 24-20.