Undefeated since the New Year, the Pennfield Panthers have come together as a team and the results have shown up on the scoreboard.
The Panthers, going for their fifth-straight win, used that team-basketball approach as Pennfield defeated Kalamazoo Christian, 69-43, in this Kalamazoo Valley Association boys’ basketball contest on Tuesday.
Pennfield improves to 6-3 overall with the victory as Kalamazoo Christian falls to 4-6.
“We have stressed to this team that it doesn’t matter who is scoring the points,” said Pennfield coach Steve Grimes. “I think they are buying into this team concept. You see guys giving the ball up, and sharing it pretty well.”
Pennfield got going early in the first quarter as center Ryan Lowe made his first two shots, giving the Panthers the lead. With 2:50 left in the quarter, Panther guard Branden Rugg hit a 15-foot jumper that gave Pennfield a four-point lead.
Installed from the start, the Panthers full-court press defense created first-quarter problems for the Comets. But in the second quarter, with 7:15 left, Kalamazoo Christian broke through that defensive pressure, making it a five-point game, 19-14.
However, a few minutes later the Pennfield press created another takeaway – this time it was guard Jake Grimes capitalizing on the Comet turnover and increasing the Panther lead to 25-14. And nearing the end of the first half, a kick-out pass was drained by Rugg before the buzzer sounded to put the Panthers up, 39-21.
“Give them credit,” said Kalamazoo Christian coach Jerry Mastenbrook, “they had their hands up in the passing lanes. We should have done a better job against that [press]… but give Pennfield credit–they were jumping passing lanes and were [being] aggressive.”
In the second half the Panthers continued its high-intensity play, expanding on the first-half lead and making it a 20-point game.
“A lot of it (the success) has to do with our defense,” Grimes said. “We seem to get to a lot of loose balls. …We were getting baskets off the press.”
Leading the way for the Panthers in the conference contest, Rugg had 16 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Grimes had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.