By JASON STRICKLAND
(KNOB NOSTER, Mo., digitalBURG) – The Knob Noster Panthers basketball team (5-3) ended a two-game skid as it blew out the Clinton Cardinals (0-7) 65-26 Thursday night.
The Panthers had lost two in a row at Richmond (6-1) and Lafayette County (7-0), but an 18 points, 12-rebound performance by junior center David Barton helped propel Knob Noster to its second biggest win of the season.
“He’s been solid throughout the year,” said coach Adam Easterwood said. “(He’s) just really someone we’ve built our team around, and he’s responded well to it.”
Of course, defense was another factor in the victory.
“I think the keys were defensively,” Easterwood said. “We did a good job at taking away the things they wanted to do.”
The Panthers allowed seven points in each of the first three quarters, and allowed only five in the fourth quarter.
Easterwood was pleased with the offense’s execution as well.
“We were very patient on offense,” he said. “Something that we really worked on is maximizing good shots.”
The Panthers started the game with a 10-2 run, and it forced a Clinton timeout with 3:18 left in the opening period. The Cardinals were able to get the score to 15-7, but a steal and a fast break layup at the buzzer by junior forward Hayden Anderson made it 17-7 after one quarter of play.
Junior guard Brett Marsh had six of his 11 points of the game in that period, as he knocked down a pair of 3-pointers.
There were a couple of instances in the game when Clinton was able to go on short runs, so Easterwood used timeouts to regroup his team.
“We had a good lead at that point, but there’s still a lot of ballgame left,” he said about taking a full timeout with a 44-19 lead and 3:46 left in the third quarter. “We want to come out of this thing with all positives and we didn’t want to get sloppy on the back side, so we called that timeout to tighten things up, get back to fundamentals of basketball and close out strong.”
As for Barton, he was a force in the post and during transition plays throughout the game. With a little more than three minutes left in the first half, Barton got a defensive rebound and fed Marsh for a fast-break layup to make it 26-14.
In the middle of the third, Barton got an old fashioned three-point play after bringing down an offensive board to make it 44-17. His biggest play came in the middle of the fourth as he slammed home a fast-break dunk to keep the crowd energetic during a 58-23 lead with 5:23 left in the game. Several Panthers’ bench players came into the game after that.
Next up for Knob Noster is a trip to Macks Creek (6-1) Dec. 28 for a 4:30 p.m. tip, before traveling to the Lafayette County Tournament Jan. 2-5.