Russellville impressive on way to 7th regional finals
By Jim Turner

Posted on March 7, 2017 10:43 PM


Panthers impressive on the way to 7th regional finals

For the seventh time in Russellville boys basketball history, the Panthers will play in the regional finals tonight. For the sixth time among those seven, Phil Todd will be the head coach.

The Panthers have been playing their best basketball of the season the last few days while winning with ease over Monroe and Clinton County, two of the teams they had also beaten in late January on the way to the All A Classic state semifinals.

They struggled against Clinton County in the first of their five wins in the small school tournament. It took an overtime for RHS to win then by two points at Jim Young Gymnasium.

In Monday’s semifinals, the Panthers were dominant in beating the Bulldogs by 24 points. The game really wasn’t that close. Clinton County trailed by 31 points at the end of the third quarter. A 35-point margin would have initiated a running clock.

Coach Todd then pulled off the full-court press that found the Bulldogs throwing passes to press row in between gasping for breath and tugging on their uniforms.

Russellville had everything going. Big men Pedro Bradshaw and Jaylyn McMurry combined for 37 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists, 8 steals and 5 blocked shots.

The Naylor brothers, who have been struggling on their shooting lately, hit 5 of 8 three-pointers, scored 26 points, pulled down 8 rebounds, and handed out 5 assists. Micah, the senior, hit a long-range shots at the end of two quarters. Jacob, who had been the most dependable producer of points besides Bradshaw in the first half of the season, reached double figures for the first time since the All A semifinals.

Russellville also got good play off the bench again from senior Paul Jones, who added 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.

The defense held the Bulldogs to just 29.1 percent shooting for the game. Both teams were charged with 18 fouls, but Clinton had two players—Colin Langford and Jamison Summers—foul out trying to stop Bradshaw and McMurry.

The Panthers (22-11) will play one of the state’s highest ranked teams, Bowling Green (31-2), in the 6 p.m. championship game at Diddle Arena.

Coach D.G. Sherrill’s Purples lived up to their reputation in Monday’s opener, whipping a good Franklin-Simpson 77-59. Franklin’s Tavin Lovan had one of his typical games in scoring 27 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, but it was far from typical in that he shot only one free throw. Many of his points—usually in double figures—usually come from the foul line, but Owensboro Catholic’s Tim Riley taught the region how to beat Franklin—keep Lovan off the line.

Bowling Green was beautifully balanced with eighth grader Zion Harmon scoring 24, fellow guard Deangelo Wilson 22, center Terry Taylor 16 (with 15 rebounds) and forward Kyran Jones 11.

Basketball started at RHS in the 1920s. The school reached the finals first in 1961. Coach Jim Young’s Panthers were led by Hall of Famers Dickey Bagby, George Hill, Larry Johnson and Wayne Mullen along with Marvin Carnell and Tom Noe.

It was 31 years before another Panther team reached the regional final again. Todd’s 1992 team—led by future Globetrotters Bubba Wells and Otis Key—lost to Franklin in the finals.

Six years later the Panthers started a streak of four consecutive years in the finals, winning three. Key players included Hall of Famers Teco Dickerson, Michael Morris, Squeaky Hampton and Nathan Thompson along with Thad and Tony Key, Anthony Woodard, Jesse Wright, Roland Dickerson and Tyree Todd.

Either tonight or at state in two weeks, Phil Todd is expected to coach his last game for the Panthers, as he plans to retire again. His assistant, Ryan Davenport, is also giving up basketball coaching—at least for now—to work on his masters degree.

They are going out with a flourish.


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