• Keith Hjelle

Panthers Edge Chargers in "A Game for the Ages," 56-52 in OT

The term "a game for the ages" has been used to describe more than one athletic contest, so it is doubtful that any one contest would earn the honor. However, last night's boys' basketball game between the ACGC Chargers and the Panorama Panthers has to rank among the top high school contests as a candidate for "a game for the ages." Final score: Panorama 56, ACGC 52 in overtime.

The teams had split during the season and each had excellent season records of seventeen wins and four or five losses. And this particular game was part of "tournament time", when it's a matter of "win or go home." For the loser, some pundits would say "there is no tomorrow." Aside from the cliches, there is the matter of school pride, and of course boasting rights.

Then there is the game itself. The game was tied or the lead changed hands at least ten times. When the Panthers opened a 15-5 lead after one quarter it appeared that it may be a rout. Three pointers by Panorama's Brice Taylor and Dominic Walker paced the Panthers in the early going.

The tide turned in the second stanza as the hosts' shooting cooled off, resulting in just six second quarter points. The Chargers took advantage and connected on six of eleven shots that included treys by Brock Littler, Newell Rogers, and Miles Kading. At the halftime break ACGC held a one point lead at 22-21.

Things flipped again in the third quarter when the visitors went over five minutes without scoring and Panorama regained the lead at 32-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

And now the drama escalates! With the Panthers up 33-28 two and a half minutes into the fourth stanza, a remarkable, unheard of four point play by Eli Kading got the Chargers within a point. Kading was fouled as he shot a successful triple and then made the ensuing free throw to make the score 33-32!

It gets better. With Panorama up by 40-36 following a Brice Taylor score with 1:42 showing on the clock, it was Miles Kading's turn for heroics. The younger Kading hit a triple with forty five seconds to go to get the Chargers within one point a 40-39. Desperate to stop the clock, the Chargers fouled Lucas Leiferman with :22 showing on the scoreboard. Leiferman hit both charity tosses to give Panorama a 42-39 lead.

It gets even better. After a miss by Eli Kading with twelve seconds left, ACGC rebounded the miss and the ball wound up in the hands of Miles Kading who lofted a desperate twenty five foot shot. The ball seemed to stop in mid air on its way to the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded. The scoreboard read 42 to 42! Oh my! Overtime.

The four minute extra period was equally nip and tuck. After Panther Dominic Walker made two free throws to give the Panthers a 50-45 lead, ACGC hit another four point play! This time it was Eli Kading who split the nets and converted on the free throw to get the Chargers with one at 50-49.

Dominic Walker spent a lot of time at the free throw line in the overtime, as he stepped to the line twelve times for the Panthers. Although he missed six free tosses, his six makes were enough to keep the home team in the lead. ACGC got within two points at 54-52 on Miles Kading's fifth trey of the night, but Walker made two free throws with one second remaining to seal the deal for the Panthers. Wow! What a game! One for the ages!

Panorama put three players in double figures, headed by Dominic Walker with 16. He was followed by Evan Taylor and Drew Taylor with 13 each. Drew Taylor scored a double double when he added 11 rebounds to his 13 points. Walker dished out 5 assists, and Evan Taylor had 4 steals.

Miles Kading led all scorers with 23 points that included five treys. No other Charger was in double figures. Eli Kading grabbed 10 rebounds and had 5 assists. No Charger had more than 1 steal.

The unofficial shooting percentages give an indication of how close the game was. ACGC was 19 of 55 from the field for 35%, while the Panthers were 18 of 54 for 33%. The Chargers connected on 8 of 37 three point tries and the Panthers made 2 of 7. The game was won at the free throw line where the Panthers made 18 free tosses, while the Chargers made 6. Free throw percentages were barely mediocre, with Panorama making 18 of 31 for 58% and the Chargers hitting on 6 of 12 for 50%.

Charger coach Lance Kading was somewhat philosophical in talking about the game. "I could not be more proud of the fight our guys showed. It would be easy to look through the box score and say if we did one better here or one better there, the outcome would have been different. But that wouldn't be fair to these fine young men. They played their hearts out for thirty six minutes versus another very good basketball team. We just came up a little bit short and there is no shame in that. Our guys never gave up and left it all out on the court."

The loss in this "game for the ages" ends the Charger season with a record of 17-6. It also ends the high school basketball careers for the five Charger seniors: Eli Kading, Lucas Marsh, Clayton Wardyn, Newell Rogers, and Carter Hanson.

The Panthers improve to 18-5 and will advance to the district finals and play Van Meter in Adel on Monday, February 23 at 7PM.

Score by quarter:

ACGC 5 17 6 14 10--52

Pan 15 6 11 10 14--56

ACGC individual statistics: (TP-REB-ASTS-STLS) (EKading (6-10-5-0) BMarsh (6-6-1-1) Crawford (4-2-0-0) LMarsh (7-5-2-0) MKading (23-5-2-0) Wardyn (0-2-1-1) Rogers (3-0-0-0) Littler

(3-1-0-) Kunkle (0-0-0-0) Hanson (0-0-0-0) Weinkoetz (0-0-0-0)


Panorama individual statistics: Leiferman (2-5-1-0) ETaylor (11-6-0-1) PWalker (2-3-0-1)

DWalker (18-7-5-1) DTaylor (13-11-0-1) Hambleton (0-1-0-0) Rizzuti (4-2-0-1) Wesson (0-1-0-0)

BTaylor (6-2-3-0)

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