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BY RICK TEVERBAUGH
ELWOOD – Nothing seems to be going right for the Elwood boys basketball team this season and Saturday night’s game here against Sheridan was no exception.
The Blackhawks came in with a 2-10 record, making them a prime target for the Panthers to find their second victim of the season.
But Sheridan left with a 76-49 victory and Elwood had to wonder if full strength was ever going to be a condition for its team again.
“Due to quarantine and discipline issues, we are still down three players,” said Elwood coach John Kelly. “We just don’t have the players we need right now to get it done.” The two starters missing who were especially harmful were juniors Jayden Reese and Isaac Wright, often two of the most potent weapons on the squad. Both were sitting out the second game of a two-game suspension imposed by school rules.
Without those two, Elwood struggled to score and to take care of the basketball. In the first quarter, the Panthers scored only six points and got off just seven shots thanks to nine turnovers. “They give us ball control and are the ones who can provide defensive pressure,” said Kelly.
Elwood was down 23-6 going to the second quarter and 38-18 at the half.
The third quarter was a different story. Elwood came out and put up 23 points on their own, while limiting the Blackhawks to 15. The scoring outburst was triggered by the 3-point shooting of Will Retherford and the unerring free throw shooting of Gage Blackford.
Retherford missed his first attempt beyond the arc in the second half, but hit his next three of them without fail before the quarter ended. “When he is In his rhythm, he’s as good as there is shooting,” said Kelly. “The whole team found some rhythm in that quarter.” Retherfoird did that despite picking up four fouls before halftime.
Blackford added a trey of his own and put together some drives to the basket. While they didn’t earn him any field goals, he did get to the free throw line where he hit all six of his attempts.
Then the Panthers hit the first field goal of the fourth quarter and it was 53-43 with over seven minutes to play. But Sheridan scored the next 12 points to salt the game away.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” said Kelly. We made ours, but they had one too. Sheridan played hard. They came in with the right attitude.”
Junior Hunter Sallee was solid throughout for the Panthers. He scored a team-high 15 points and had six rebounds. Retherford was next with 14 points and Zane Henry led the home team with seven rebounds.
Ethan Moistner topped Sheridan with 26 points, scoring from inside and out. Caleb Wright added 18 and Evan Grinstead contributed 15.
Elwood drops to 1-10 and will visit Mississinewa on Friday. “I think we should have everyone back this week for practice and for the game,” said Kelly.
ALEXANDRIA 63, ELWOOD 28
On Friday night, Elwood. operating with limited personnel, were defeated by the Alexandria Tigers 63-28.
The Panthers played a solid first half of basketball and then found the lid on the basket in the second half.
Leading the way for the Panthers was Galan with 10 points, followed by Sallee with five points. Retherford and Henry each had four points. Sophomore Jackson Blackford had three points and junior Gage Blackford added two points.