Clever, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- The number one Class 2 team in the state, the Billings Wildcats, defeated a young but determined Forsyth Panthers team on Friday night, 59-54. The Panthers, who trailed the entire game, never diverted from their game plan. They had a shot to win the game in the fourth quarter but failed to do so.
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“We had some unforced turnovers that showed our inexperience,” said Forsyth coach Jeremy Peterson.
Billings would build a 14-point lead at halftime, 30-16, and the Wildcats seemed well on their way to another easy win.
In the second-half, Forsyth’s game plan began to work as Billings was forced to guard them longer than they would have liked on each possession. The Panthers would start to hit some key 3-point shots in the third quarter but they still trailed at the end of three, 47-34.
“We stuck to our game plan in the second half,” said Peterson. “We knew we couldn’t outscore them so we decided to try to control the tempo of the game. We wanted to limit their possessions.”
The momentum, though, had moved in the favor of Forsyth. Billings started to miss shots and Forsyth would not allow them any offensive rebounds. At the 5:36 mark of the fourth quarter, a technical foul was called on Billings’ Austin Essick and Forsyth made it a six point game, 47-41. Forsyth sophomore Brandon Jahn would hit a 3-pointer to make the score a one-possession game, 47-44.
The upset-minded Panthers were rolling when freshman Jett Schanda got a three-point play to tie the game at 49 with 3:53 to go. Billings senior Brady Chastain was clutch down the stretch, going 8 for 8 from the free-throw line, but Forsyth would not go away. At 2:15, Jahn hit another three, to tie the game at 52, but Billings would not relinquish the lead. With the score tied at 54 each and 1:12 to go, Forsyth turned the ball over and would not be able to score again in the game.
“That was a huge turnover on our part,” said Peterson.
With 30 seconds to go in the game, down three at 57-54, Forsyth shot a 3 that rimmed out, forcing them to foul. Billings would knock down the free throws and take home the hard-fought victory.
Peterson was optimistic about his team moving forward.
"The kids played really hard tonight and they bought into our game plan. It’s hard sometimes to get kids to share the ball as well as we do. It’s hard to get kids to pass the ball 12-15 times in one possession,” said Peterson.
“They made us work on defense, they made some big 3s, and we lost our composure a little bit in the fourth quarter. Coach Peterson has his kids really working on their offensive possessions,” said Billings coach Kendall Tilly after the game. “They are a well-coached team and they knew that if they could control the tempo of the game and control the possessions, they could have a chance to beat us. They didn’t quit and they showed they weren’t intimidated by a ranked team.”
Billings 14 16 17 12 59
Forsyth 10 6 18 20 54
Billings— Brady Chastain-26, Chad Yeokum-11, Austin Essick-11, Dawson Meyer-9, Lane Truman-2.
Forsyth— Brandon Jahn-15, Jett Schanda-12, Grant Walker-9, Quinten Davidson-9, Logan Horner-7, Keaton Doublin-2.