After securing a first-round bye, the Eastbrook Panthers had no answers for the Tipton Blue Devils on Friday in their Sectional 39 semifinal contest at Blackford, falling to the Blue Devils by a score of 86-48.
The Blue Devils grabbed a double-digit advantage early and would not relinquish it, leading 22-12 after the first quarter and 44-24 at halftime.
“Tipton is extremely talented. They are a solid basketball program,” Eastbrook Head Coach Greg Allison said. “They played well. They shot it well. They’re solid. They’ve basically got two waves [of kids] that are just really good players.”
Tipton kept the pedal down in the second half, ultimately securing the 38-point triumph.
“Our kids competed,” Allison said. “We had a good week of practice. We got a lot of young kids some playing time in a sectional environment. We tried to do some things to take some things away from them, but…we just ran into a very good basketball team tonight.”
Alex Baker finished the contest, and his Eastbrook career, with 13 points to lead the team. Zeke Binkerd collected 11 points in his final high school contest, while Bryce Schamber collected seven points and six rebounds.
“Our seniors did a good job of leading,” Allison said. “It’s very atypical for a kid when things aren’t going your way to continue to show up and compete. Our seniors did that [tonight.]”
While the Panthers’ season was one full of ups and downs, their play in the second half of the season provides a plethora of optimism for the future. Young players like Jackson VanBelkum, Brody Brodkorb, and Braxton Bowser stepped into key roles, and each showcased great improvement with each passing contest.
Now, for Allison and the Panthers, they plan on building on those positives throughout the offseason, as they look to achieve their long-term goal of bringing Eastbrook boys basketball back to prominence.
“I told them I was extremely proud of them,” Allison said. “They never gave up. They faced some adversity, and it’s pretty easy to run away from adversity, and they didn’t do that.
“Now, we have to get better. We must continue to work and continue to [improve] our individual skills. That’s something we will start working on. There are promising things. We saw a lot of bright spots, and we hope to build off with a good offseason.”
Eastbrook finished the 2019-2020 season with a 1-22 record.