Panthers shine in tourney

Staff TimesNewspapers
Colton Sharp goes for a ball in the Panthers opening game of the Tournament of Champions against Kewanee.

WASHINGTON — The Washington Panthers finished Washington portion of the Tournament of Champions undefeated over the Thanksgiving holiday. Guard Lou Griffith was named MVP of the tournament.

The Panthers opened up play on Tuesday, Nov. 24 with a 50-31 victory over Kewanee.

With a veteran backcourt and a mix of first-year varsity players, Washington’s first half in its season opener was a bit of a feeling out process.

“It’s kind of like being on a first date,” Washington coach Kevin Brown said. “You’re not sure what move to make.”

Washington made its move over the third and fourth quarters, in the form of a 20-point run, in a 50-31 victory over Kewanee on opening day at the Tournament of Champions.

Griffith led all scorers with 18 points and junior Devin Whitelow had 12.

Washington 6-foot-6 freshman J.J. Guedet started. Sophomore Brett Williams and freshman guard Payton Havens logged significant minutes.

Williams scored nine, and mostly guarded Kewanee senior Donovan Oliver, who made five of 11 shots and led the Boilermakers with 11 points and five rebounds.

“I thought Brett kind of took (Oliver) out of his game in the second half,” Brown said.

Oliver had two breakaway dunks and Kewanee’s Ryan Hansen drained a 3 that pulled the Boilers even at 26 with 1:30 to play in the third quarter.

Washington scored the next 20. Griffith had three baskets and four assists during the spree that started with his inside feed to Williams.

“We had so many guys out there tonight with so little experience,” Brown said. “Bottom line, when you find yourself in a situation, get the ball in the hands of your guards.”

The Panthers followed their Tuesday night victory with a win over Genoa-Kingston on Wednesday night. The combination of Griffith (21) and Whitelow (22) combined for 43 points in the victory.

Griffith pulled down nine boards while Whitelow dished out four assists.

Williams came away with four points while Colton Sharp put in five for Washington.

The Panthers withstood 25 points from Tommy Lucca in their victory.

Washington had a showdown with Little Rock Baptist Prep on Friday night. The Panthers out battled the 7-foot-tall brothers, Connor and Brandon Vanover for a 53-50 victory.

Whitelow had 19 and Griffith dropped in 14 as the star backcourt led the way.

Sharp tacked on eight points and Payton Havens added five.

The 7-foot-3-inch Connor Vanover scored 10 points, nabbed seven rebounds and rejected five Panther shots in the loss.

In their final game, the Panthers skimmed past Huntsville 61-59 to finish the tournament with a perfect record on their home court.

Griffith led the way for Washington with 29 points on the way to being named MVP of the tournament.

Whitelow had 11 and Sharp had 15 in the victory.

Evan Wiley had a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds for Huntsville.

The Panthers travel to Canton on Friday for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Little Giants.

Panther fans will not have to wait long to see Washington back on their home court. The Panthers begin a four game homestand on Nov. 11 against Metamora.

Lonnie Schwindenhammer of GateHouse Media Illinois contributed to this report.