The Pennfield Panthers are hoping that a five-game homestead to end their season will result in a late-season push to get above .500 and build some momentum for the postseason.
After defeating Kalamazoo Hackett at home on Tuesday the Panthers took another step in the right direction with a 58-47 home victory against Olivet on Friday night in boys’ basketball action.
The back-to-back Kalamazoo Valley Association wins up Pennfield’s record to 8-9 on the season and 7-8 in the KVA.
“Our schedule was pretty brutal as far as all the away games we’ve had and we’ve been trying to survive. It’s been a challenge with guys in and out of the lineup, but right now we’re coming together and you’re starting to see some of the better basketball we’ve played,” Pennfield head coach Steve Grimes said.
With Olivet big man Quintan Harris out for the season, the Panthers went to the post early and often, jumping out to a 16-9 first quarter lead behind three buckets by sophomore center Ryan Lowe.
Olivet (7-9, 7-8 KVA) answered with an 11-2 run in the second quarter and Nick Coolidge’s driving layup with less than 10 seconds to play in the half cut Pennfield’s lead to two points. However, Pennfield quickly advanced the ball up the court to an open Jake Gillett, who threw up a rainbow 3-pointer that hit nothing but net as time expired, giving the Panthers a 29-24 halftime advantage.
“That was for sure a big shot because (Olivet) got it back to two points and had all the momentum and it gave us a little bit of space going into halftime,” Grimes said.
Pennfield extended its lead in the third quarter, taking a 44-33 lead with 1.9 seconds left in the frame after Davontae Miller hit an and-one layup and converted the free throw.
The Panthers took care of the ball in the fourth quarter, earning a victory that brings them one game away from a .500 record with three regular season games to play, all at home.
“We’re kind of using this homestretch as a platform,” Grimes said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time and hopefully sneak our way back to .500 and go into districts with a little bit of momentum going.”
Pennfield was led by Jake Grimes’ 16 points. Miller had 10 points and Darin Blocker scored seven points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Lowe score eight points and blocked five shots.
Olivet’s Coolidge and Brett Whitely scored 11 apiece while Brendan Whitely added eight.