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Chiefland boys looked sluggish in a mostly close 50-39 loss to district rival Newberry Friday. Expectations were high for the Indians after a breakout game against ranked rival Williston, which Chiefland lost only after putting a bad scare into the slumping Devils.
The Indians traded baskets early with the Panthers, playing active defense and bringing the ball back to the offensive end. Led by Cantrell Richardson and Eugene Carter, Chiefland managed a 10-6 lead off quick transition buckets, but Newberry recovered when sharpshooter Ryan Brown was fouled outside the arc and made three free throws to put the Panthers back up.
Reggie McClendon shot a timely three to open the second quarter and recover the lead for Chiefland. Stephen Davis cut into the lane for a bucket and the Indians again led by four. But Newberry went on a 7-1 run, sending Cawan Bryant to the line to down one shot and finish his own rebound after missing the second. Chiefland went to the break down 29-23.
In the second half, the Indians continued to hustle but got less for their work. Out of three trips to the line in the third quarter, they gleaned only one point. Shots weren't falling – a pair of fast break layups by Donnell Sanders and a baby jumper by Carter were the total of the field goals in the third period. Newberry didn't shoot well either, but without strong rebounding, the Indians couldn't capitalize on extra opportunities. The Panthers extended their lead by one going into the fourth quarter.
Chiefland's shooting collapsed in the fourth quarter, and they turned the ball over against the Panthers' tightened defense. Richardson and Davis went inside for scores and were fouled, but neither made the free throw. Davis made Chiefland's last field goal, with under a minute to go in the game, but that was only after a long offensive dry spell for the Indians.
Newberry actually fared worse from the field, with only Bacarius Dinkins and Chris White scoring from the floor. They made up for it at the line, where they went 9-18, including another three-pack from Chris Gillyard. Newberry scarcely shot any better than Chiefland in any quarter, but with superior rebounding, the Panthers gave themselves second, third and fourth chances that made all the difference at the end.
“Unfortunately, our shot selection this time – I thought there were times when we took shots that we could have given up that shot and waited for a better one,” said Chiefland Head Coach Mark Lundy.
Newberry's defense forced the Indians outside, a weak shooting spot for them.
“We didn't shoot well from outside tonight, and we just never worked through that,” Lundy said. “Also, they killed us on the glass. I guarantee you the rebounding was probably 4-1 at least.”
Chiefland continues to excel in effort and energy, and Lundy says the team will get back to work.
“The kids work hard – they played hard,” he said. “We just really lacked cohesiveness in our offense tonight.”