It rained threes inside the gym at Van Alstyne High School on Dec. 3 as the Panthers were deadly from downtown in an impressive 89-56 non-district win over Howe.
Van Alstyne sent in 10 shots from beyond the arc and scorched the Bulldogs with a 48-22 advantage in the second half to bump its record to 8-0 for the year.
Senior Zach Davis led five Panthers with double-digit scoring nights, scoring 14 points, nine of those coming from 3-point range.
Seth Caraway, just 11 days past playing in the Panther’s final football game of the season, finished with a dozen points, half of those from outside the arc.
This game started out similarly to the two teams’ battle a year ago in Howe as they traded runs in the early minutes.
Van Alstyne got off to a hot start as Jake Hillebrenner scored the first six Panther points before a Colin McCaskill basket gave the Panthers a 10-3 lead and forced a Howe timeout.
The Bulldogs got the coach’s message during the break and Brice Harvey made an old-school 3-point play before sending in three-of-four from the charity stripe to cut the Van Alstyne lead to just two.
Bailey Thorpe entered the game for Van Alstyne and on his second trip down the court sent in a corner three. Caraway missed on his first attempt from long-range, but after putting back an offensive rebound, he drilled a three-ball from the top of the arc.
Howe got 3-point shots from John Jacob Talley. Easton Ross, who led all scorers with 15 points on the night, sent in a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 23-22 lead at the end of the first period.
Caraway started the second quarter scoring for Van Alstyne and his basket was answered by a Harvey bucket to keep the Bulldogs on top.
After a Ross free throw, C.J.Lowing scored off of a feed from Hillebrenner. Three-point shots by Davis and Isaiah Boling put the Panthers back in front to stay.
A year ago these two teams traded baskets until the final whistle with Van Alstyne coming away with a 63-60 win. This time around, the Bulldogs could not match the quickness and outside shooting of a deep Van Alstyne team.
Unless I’m mistaken (and you could get good odds on betting yes) every player on the Panther bench got in the score book.
That’s the way to keep those “switchables” happy.
Michael Kehrer, a Bulldog whose motor never stops running, tried to keep his team in the game, scoring seven points midway through the third quarter. His third basket cut the Panther lead to nine, but a corner trey by Thorpe, then four points from McCaskill got the lead back to 16. Three-pointers by Caraway and Davis closed out the third quarter with Van Alstyne up, 67-43.
Van Alstyne coach Russell Best went deep into his bench in the fourth period, but there’s some talent on that end of the pine, as well. Joey Jackson, Lowing, Harrison Awe and Blake Linnebur got minutes and displayed strength on the offensive end.
Van Alstyne will try to extend its winning streak as the team is scheduled to travel to Sanger over the Dec. 7 weekend to play in that tournament.
Howe was scheduled to play in an Oklahoma tournament but that event was cancelled.
Howe 23 11 9 13 — 56
Van Alstyne 22 19 26 22 — 89
Howe:Easton Ross 15, John Jacob Talley 14, Brice Harvey 11, Michael Kehrer 9, Griffin Underwood 7.
VA: Zach Davis 14, Seth Caraway 12,Jake Hillebrenner 11, Colin McCaskill 10, Bailey Thorpe 10, Jared McMakin 8, Isaiah Boling 7, Joey Jackson 5, Blake Linnebur 4, Denny Graham 4, Harrison Awe 2, C.J. Lowing 2.
Van Alstyne JV 42, Howe JV 31
In junior varsity action, the Van Alstyne JV team beat the Howe Bulldog JV, 42-31.
Jacob Williams led the Panthers with 10 points, while Howe’s Sam Akins led all scorers with 11. Nick Wilson chipped in nine for Howe.
Whitewright Tournament Champs
The Van Alstyne Panthers completed a 4-0 run through the field of the Whitewright Turkey Week Shoot-Out over the Thanksgiving holidays.
After beating Honey Grove 48-30 in the opener, the Panthers came back to post a 52-39 win over Quinlan-Ford, a 57-45 win over Paris Chisum and they won the championship game with a 39-37 result over Whitewright.
Zach Davis and Colin McCaskill were picked for the All-tournament team.