Meadville Tribune

Sports

February 22, 2013

H.S. BOYS BASKETBALL: Panthers, Sailors embark on postseason run

MEADVILLE — It seems like an eternity since the Saegertown boys team season-opening loss to Fairview. The Panthers lost 57-51 to the Tigers in the Fairview Tip off tournament on Dec. 7.

“They hit some threes and ended up beating us,” Saegertown head coach Greg Molnar said. “They didn’t have their two best players and Shane Rigby didn’t play for us.”

Since then, the Panthers (18-4) went on a  16-game winning streak — which they are currently on — and became Region 3 champions.

Although coach Molnar is enjoying the win streak, he doesn’t believe it will give his team any extra momentum over Fairview.

“It is like a brand new season,” Molnar said. “Right now everybody is 0-0. The momentum thing I don’t buy into a whole lot. We were playing teams we could compete with. I don’t put a lot of importance on it.”

All season long the Panthers have shown they have a balanced offense with three players averaging in double figures.

Dustin Pavlik leads the team 13.5 points per game. Rigby is right behind him with 12.3 and Austin Scere has 10.7. Jeff Mattocks is just  below double figures with 9.0 points per game and is one point shy of 200 for the season.

Most of Saegertown’s success comes from working the ball down in the post, and coach Molnar says it is no secret that will be the game plan tonight.

“We are going inside,” Molnar said. “We have done that all year long. When we play seriously I don’t allow the kids to take 3-point shots. Rigby, Pavlik, Mattocks and Scere should score big if we go inside.”

On the other end, Molnar expects the Tigers to do exactly what they did in the first meeting — drive and pass out to the perimeter.

“I know exactly what Fairview is going to do,” Molnar said. “They are going to drive down the lane and if we stop the drive they are going to pass out for the 3. It comes down to if they hit the threes and what their guards are doing. The matchup is going to be Fairview’s guards against our big men. Who is going to play better?”

More often than not, every team is going to have a weakness. The Panthers kryptonite has been their below-average performance at the free-throw line. And if they plan to take the ball inside during tonight’s game, they should expect to be shooting a fair share of foul shots.

As a team, the Panthers are shooting 54 percent from the charity stripe with four of their top seven shooters converting at a clip of 59  percent or less.

“There is going to come a time where we have to step up at the foul line and keep the pressure on Fairview or if we get beyond Fairview,” Molnar said. “It will come back to bite us if we don’t convert them.”

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