KNOXVILLE — The Panthers erased a double-digit halftime deficit to force overtime but it was Newton’s night as a Jake Ingle buzzer beater gave the Cardinals the 71-69 win.
Ingle, a sophomore guard, had a huge night right from the start as he and his teammates blitzed Knoxville to jump in front 20-11 after the first quarter. Ingle had three triples and 11 points in the opening eight minutes.
Knoxville responded nicely early in the second quarter with Kieren Nichols getting a tough and-one opportunity. After missing the free throw, the ball found it’s way back to Nichols who promptly made a three for a five-point possession, cutting the deficit to four with 5:39 left in the second.
Newton sharpened their defense and Ingle continued to cook, extending the Cardinal lead to 37-25 at the break.
Knoxville came out hungry in the second half with seven points from Luke Keitges leading an 11-5 Panther run. Spencer Hixson equally had a huge quarter with 13 points but a Keith Moko tip-in gave Newton a 54-46 advantage going to the fourth.
Keitges continued to provide that energy for the Panthers with several huge blocks sparking an 8-0 run capped off by Nichols euro-step layup to lock things up at 54 with 6:11 to go.
Every possession was tight from there on out with several whistles like the girls game. Newton finished with 21 fouls and were 21-of-26 from the line.
The two teams exchanged free throws with the Cardinals getting the last shot of regulation with the game tied at 63. Zayvier Arguello drove to the hoop hard but was stymied by the Panther defense, sending the game to overtime.
It remained a free throw contest with Nichols going 4-of-4 from the line early to give Knoxville a 67-65 lead. Nichols would later tie the game at 69 with a nice layup with a little over a minute left.
Newton would drain the clock for over a minute, ensuring they once again get the final shot.
The Cardinals would miss their first look but would get a tip rebound by Moko back out to Ingle, who calmly pump faked one Panther defending before taking a step in and pulling up from the free throw line and hitting the game-winner as time expired.
Ingle would finish with 29 points to lead Newton. The Panthers had three go for 20-plus points led by Nichols (24), Hixson (22) and Keitges (21).
Knoxville (5-2, 4-1 SCC) is back at home on Monday at 8 p.m. when they take on Pella Christian (3-6, 2-3 LHC).
*Knoxville stats were not available at time of print