By Gary Robbins
The Stone Memorial basketball teams swept the Knox Beavers in a pair of non-district contests Jan. 3, as the Panthers won 80-77 and the Lady Panthers won 74-52.
Panthers 80, Karns 77: Stone got off to a nice start with a 6-0 run and a strong opening period by Brandon Thomas who scored nine points to give his team a 20-12 lead over the Beavers. The visitors pressured the Panthers into a lot of turnovers, which is uncharacteristic of this team this year. Karns had good length and quickness and didn't allow any passing lanes for the Panthers.
Karns capitalized off back to back turnovers from Stone to make the score 29-25 with 3:08 to go in the half.
Tyler Yoder, who had a monster night, hit a three-pointer to respond to a Beaver run and the Panthers lead 36-32 at the half, and the fans knew this would be a tight game.
As the second half began, Stone quickly came out with a little 4-0 run to add to their lead, but Karns' Devin Sibley had a monster night himself and kept his team close.
Stone surged to a nine-point lead in the third quarter, but Karns kept it close and it was a two possesion game at the end of three periods, with 55-49 Stone leading.
Karns came out strong in the final period, capitalizing off SMHS turnovers and a blocked shot to gain a 59-55 lead for the first time.
Yoder hit a big three-point shot to make the score 63-60 with 4:43 left to play.
Parker Hill hit a clutch three-pointer, as he continued to play well coming off the bench and tied the game at 63.
Free throws were big in the outcome of the game, as Stone went 12 of 16 from the line shooting 75 percent from the charity stripe.
Sibley stayed hot, keeping the Beavers in the game, as he finished with 37 points. Teammate Matt Larsen hit a clutch trey with 1:55 to go to slice SMHS' lead to 72-70.
Justin Simmons was fouled as he went strong to the rim and then drilled both free throws to give SMHS a four-point advantage. Yoder ended strong, as he hit a key jumper with 30 seconds left in the contest to give SMHS a 75-72 advantage.
Simmons converted two more free throws. Yoder came up with a defensive rebound on a Karns missed shot and was immediately fouled. He hit one of two free throws to swell the lead to 80-77 with 11 seconds left in the game.
Sibley was able to get two looks in the last few seconds, but was unable to connect and Stone secured the victory 80-77. Yoder led Stone's scoring with 33 points, followed by Justin Simmons (14), Brandon Thomas (13), Gage Spence (9), Luke Matthews (6) and Parker Hill (5).
Lady Panthers 74, Karns 52: The Lady Panthers took control of the game from the opening tip against the winless Lady Beavers.
The Lady Panthers didn't let the cold weather affect their shooting, as they were hot from the three-point line hitting seven in the second period alone and nine for the first half.
The Lady Panthers had spurts of 4-0, 5-0 and 4-0 in the first eight minutes, before finishing the first period with a 19-8 advantage.
SMHS was able to create turnovers off their full-court pressure and got red hot from the three-point line, hitting three in a row by Tiffany Cokkniais, Abby Griffin and Bailey Rutledge.
Courtney Chambers of Karns hit a couple of treys herself to keep her team close, but the Lady Panthers led 45-23 at the half.
Senior Jackie Livesay was able to get in on the three-point action as she hit one in the second period and opened the third with another.
The Lady Panthers pressure and deadly shooting stretched their lead to 60-37 at the start of the fourth period and closed out strong to end the game with a score of 74-52
Statistical leaders were Tiffany Cokkinias (eight points, two rebounds, seven assists, three steals), Jordan Thompson (four points, three rebounds), Kirsten Potter (seven points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal), Jacki Livesay (11 points, two rebounds, one steal), Lacey Melton (two points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal), Riley Hunt (seven points, 10 rebounds), Abby Griffin (12 points, one rebound), Bailey Rutledge (10 points, three steals), Courtney White (two points, three rebounds, three assists, four steals), Sidney Earley (three rebounds), Brittany Brun (six points, four boards, two assists, one steal), Sam Gray (three points, three rebounds, five assists, one steal) and Hailey Coudriet (two points, one rebound, two assists, one steal).
(Editor's note: Tim Cokkinias provided the statistics.)