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Panthers rally to top Bears

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NORTH VERNON — The Jennings County boys basketball team overcame a slow first quarter to beat Shelbyville 69-59 on Friday night.

The Panthers, who trailed 17-12 after the first quarter, were led by sophomore Caleb Eder’s 17 points.

“We had a sluggish week at practice, and it showed in the first quarter,” said Eder. “We had to do something and play harder.”

Senior point guard Bailey Sanders added 10 points, and directed the offense.

Sanders’ unselfish play set the example for his teammates. “Bailey’s a great player,” said Panthers coach Joe Hartwell. “He gets more excited about winning a game than scoring. We have to have him on the floor to succeed.”

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The example carried over to Sanders’ teammates, as each player filled a role to earn the victory. Senior Tommy Taylor scored nine points and led the team in rebounding. Sophomore Dan Leach added 10 points, and senior guard Bryson Mills scored eight.

“This team is very unselfish,” senior point guard Bailey Sanders said. “We came out flat tonight, and Shelbyville came out tough. It opened our eyes and each one of us did what it took to win.”

“We were down a point at halftime,” Eder said. “We decided we weren’t going accept defeat.”

Jennings County (4-1), despite a 21-point second-half effort from Shelbyville junior Adam Eads, would pull away from the Golden Bears for the win.

“We didn’t have a sharp week. We watched a lot of tape to show these guys that Shelbyville is tough, and they proved it,” said coach Hartwell. “They came out and knocked us on our heels in the first quarter. It was a great test of our mental toughness, and these guys showed they had it tonight.”

Junior Brad Hunt added six points for the Panthers off the bench. Junior guard Adrian Kirchner added five points to the balanced attack.

“Every night it’s somebody different for us,” said Sanders. “We just come out to win, no matter how we do it. A win is a win to us.”

Jennings County next hosts Greensburg on Friday.

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