Yes, victories for the Eastbrook Panthers have been few and far between throughout the 2018-2019 season.
But you will not find many three-win teams that work harder and battle more fiercely than the Eastbrook Panthers.
This is a team that, no matter how much they are trailing by, does not stop playing. No matter the circumstances, they strive for improvement in all areas.
They’ve worked. They’ve grown. They’ve become better basketball players.
And on Friday night in their season finale, the Panthers ended their regular season on a high note.
Trailing by 14 points at halftime, Eastbrook embarked on an incredible comeback, dominating the third quarter and allowing just 10 points in the second half in a 58-46 victory over the South Adams Starfires.
Eastbrook’s defense struggles in the first half, allowing 36 points to a team that, according to Eastbrook Head Coach Greg Allison, averaged just 40 points a game this season.
In the locker room at halftime, Allison reminded his kids about one of the fundamental truths of the game of basketball. Offense comes and goes, that’s part of the game, but you can always play good defense.
And in the final 16 minutes, the Panthers took that to heart.
“We talked a lot about buying in – kids have to buy in on the defensive end,” Allison said. “We talked a little bit about how you can bring [defense] every night. You have to give South Adams credit – they played really well. I wasn’t really pleased with our defensive performance. But they were able to turn it on. Give them credit; they didn’t hang their heads or anything like that. We outscored them 20-4 in the third quarter, which has been a quarter that’s been a bad quarter for us. We were then able to pull away in the fourth. [It] was just a really good night for our guys. I’m proud of the way they competed. They didn’t give up.”
Throughout a frustrating second half of the season, Eastbrook’s leaders, like Dylan Bragg, Bryce Schamber, and Garrett Holder have kept the team grounded. When the losses piled up, they continued to work on their game while pushing the younger players.
“You’ve got to give the credit to the upperclassmen for leading our group,” Allison said. “Those guys that lead our group, especially those guys that come from different fall sports, are used to winning. Those are the type of programs that the Eastbrook Athletic Department has. They’re not going to give up. That’s something that’s very special about our group this year. We don’t have a great record, I understand that part, but…our guys are going to battle every night. We might not come out victorious at times, but we are going to go to battle every night with you and give you our best shot.”
Eastbrook has a first round bye, and will either play the Tipton Blue Devils or Grant County Madison-Grant.
Regardless of who they play, Allison will have his team ready to go.
“Obviously, we won’t know who we will play after Tuesday night, but either team, be it Tipton or Madison-Grant, presents a big challenge to us,” Allison said. “So, we are going to work on us here. We are going to have to play well in order to advance in the tournament.”
Dylan Bragg led the Panthers in scoring with 17, while Alex Baker finished with 13 and Garrett Holder 11. Bryce Schamber also made his return to the Eastbrook lineup, recording a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.