Newberry bench getting energized during a stoppage of play.

Newberry Boy’s Hoops Defeats District Foe Bronson, Clinches No. 1 Seed Heading into the Playoffs

The energy was sky high on Thursday night as the Newberry Panthers boy’s basketball team defeated the Bronson Eagles in a high-scoring district matchup 68-64.  . 

While Bronson came in riding a nine-game win streak, the Panthers took care of business in their final home regular-season game. With a win, Newberry has clinched the top seed for 1A District 7, despite two games remaining in the regular season.

Senior Joe Carter III led the team in scoring with 15 points and finished amongst four Panthers who recorded double-digit points. The Panthers once again were able to score in variety, with nine different players recording a score.

Early Adversity

Within a few minutes of tipoff, Bronson jumped out to an early 10-2 lead. Similar to their record since January 4, the Eagles were red hot, and the Panthers could not find an answer to Bronson’s knockdown shooting.

After a time out by Newberry, the Panthers began to put some points on the board. Perrion Sylvester and Lennie Boykin made their presence known in the post with a few key baskets and rebounds. Joe Carter III converted on two shots in the first quarter, along with a few more from Reggie White and Shelton Hall. Despite their efforts, Bronson simply shot the lights out in the first quarter. At the conclusion of the first, the score was 22-13 in favor of Bronson.

Panthers Claw Back

As the second quarter began, the Panthers started things off with something to prove. Newberry jumped out on an early 7-0 run to cut the Bronson lead down to two.

After the Eagles called a timeout, the Panthers continued to attack, with some impressive shooting coming from Keon Woods. He hit three from behind the arc in the second quarter, leading the team with nine points at the half.

Despite the offensive surge from the Panthers, the Eagles continued to put on a shooting clinic. Jesse Williams III, a two-sport athlete, scored 15 points in the first half. Jeythian Merced became an issue for the Panthers after he hit three shots from behind the arc in the first half.

As the two district heavyweights traded blows, costly turnovers prevented the Panthers from forging ahead. Transition buckets that the team had previously converted were not executed as they should be. As a result, Reggie White and many other Newberry players grew frustrated.

The Panthers were able to get a few buckets late in the half, but Jeythian Merced began to heat up in the closing minutes. At the end of the first half, the score was 39-32 in favor of Bronson.

Late Run Puts Newberry Ahead

As the second half got underway, Joe Carter III and Michael Moore wasted no time making their presence known. They knocked down three shots from behind the arc, but Jesse Williams III answered back with a few shots of his own.

The third quarter was back and forth until a timeout was called with 3:43 remaining in the period. After this brief stoppage in play, the Panthers began to claw their way back into the game. The Panthers were able to bring the score within two, thanks to 11 third-quarter points from Joe Carter III. After a big-time three-pointer from Keon Woods, the Panthers clung to a 53-52 lead at the end of the third.

After the quarter ended, the Panthers huddled around their head coach.

Coach Patrick Green told his team to get after it.  “Nothing less than that the rest of the night. That’s what it’s gonna take. They’re coming here to steal something from you. We’re the number one team, but you gotta play like it!”

Keeping the Foot on the Gas

Coach Green talks to his team during a timeout. Photo by Bradley Shimel.

Just as it had been for most of the game, the quarter started off with both teams trading blows. Jeythian Merced and Jesse Williams III continued to score, with both players combining for 39 points in Thursday’s game.

While the Panthers got a few scores courtesy of Perrion Sylvester, Green noticed the team failed to secure offensive rebounds.

During a timeout, he said to the team, “It can’t be a one-man show. Everyone’s gotta be involved. If you don’t shoot, go crash. From this point forward, you gotta take away every extra opportunity.”

The Panthers took what their head coach said to heart, and increased the physicality inside the paint. This lead to more offensive rebounds and more points on the board late in the game.

After Reggie White scored on a fast break, the Panthers held a five-point lead with a little over three minutes remaining in the game. Coach Green urged his boys to “keep the foot on the gas” and the Panthers did just that. They forced turnovers that resulted in points, just as they did in their previous game versus Dixie County. With less than a minute remaining in regulation, Perrion Sylvester threw down an alley-oop with authority to put this game on ice.

Green said he was proud of his guys and the resiliency his team showed. He said that the team needed a game like this before they entered the district playoffs.

When asked about clinching the top seed, Green was glad that his players got rewarded for their hard work. He also assured that their focus was on their next game against the Williston Devils.

Looking Ahead

The Newberry Panthers (17-4) have clinched the top seed in 1A District 7. They are scheduled to play the Williston Devils (13-8) on the road on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Panthers will then close out the regular season on the road against the West Port Wolf Pack (6-13) on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

About Bradley Shimel

Journalism: Sports and Media Major at the University of Florida // Aspiring Broadcast + Written Journalist // Experienced in Graphic Design + Social Media

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