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Panthers crowned basketball champs

Fort Knox Panthers (purple) beat Robin Hood Warriors 54-42 to claim the basketball league title on Saturday night.

By Derek deChabertFort Knox Panthers 54Robin Hood Warriors 42The Fort Knox Panthers were crowned the 2013 CellOne Elite City League champions last night after beating the Robin Hood Warriors at Somersfield Academy on Saturday night at Somersfield Academy.Led by Ronnie Bushner’s 16 points, the eventual champions held their nerve in the winner-take-all game down the stretch to preserve the win.It was the first time in the league’s history that a team had come back to win the title after losing game one of the best-of three series.Jason Lowe scored 19 points for the Warriors in the loss, although he struggled to get help from his team-mates.“After three long years and totally revamping my team I have been second guessed as to why, now with the title, it was all worth it,” said Panthers coach Cecil Henrdickson.“The game was much closer than the score. It came down to match-ups and we were able to execute the match-ups a bit better than they were also defensively we were able to slow them down. And narrow their dimensions on offence.“We made history as no one has ever come back from losing the first game so doing that was very sweet, and winning against John Lee, the originator of the league and against a worthy opponent made it very sweet.”The Panthers were behind big in the opening minutes, trailing by 11 with just two minutes gone off the clock, but were brought back into the match courtesy of an onslaught by Kevin Stephens from beyond the arc to grab them a 20-18 lead at half-time.Both sides exchanged blows throughout the second half, but it would be the Panthers defence that would prove to be too much for Hood down the stretch, making adjustments at crucial stages in the game.Bushner took over from Stephens, knocking down more long range bombs to keep the game just out of reach as the Warriors tried climbing back into the game.In the end, they would reap the benefits of sticking to the game plan laid out by the coaching staff.“It was a tough game and an even tougher series,” said Panthers forward Derrick Hendrickson. “As a player I enjoyed the series, as you got to make adjustments and use them in the following game.“It wasn’t only a battle of the wills and skills of the players, but also allowed coaches to game plan and counter game plan.“Our coach made a decision to switch up our defence to a zone late in the second half which proved to catch the Warriors off guard as we had played man for man the entirety of the series until that point. They didn’t adjust and it allowed our defence to clamp down make it difficult for them to score.“A 12-point victory isn’t really as big as it sounds. Five or six baskets in a row isn’t impossible if you’re making defensive stops.“ You have to remember they ran out to an 11-point lead early in the game.“Truthfully they weren’t making stops down the stretch and we either made stops or kept them to one-shot opportunities when they did have a chance.”