By Stephen Smoot
The Harman Panthers came to Franklin to face the Wildcats last Friday night. Though they showed heart to the end, Pendleton County’s athleticism and skill carried the day for the home team. Harman, like the Wildcats, defeated Union a month ago, but by a single point.
Harman controlled the opening tipoff through sheer hustle, but from the start faced a tight and aggressive man-to-man defense. Scoring erupted for the Wildcats after only 33 seconds passed. At the 7:26 mark, Jacob Beachler took an entry pass and hit a short jumper. Clayton Kisamore followed that with a layup at the 7:11 mark. Only 14 seconds later, he hit his second layup in a row. By the 6:30 mark, two Dustin Vandevander free throws put his team up 8-0.
Initially, the press discombobulated the Harman offense. They took rushed and quick shots as soon as they found themselves open. Deep shots led to long rebounds, fast breaks, and easy scores for the Wildcats very early on.
Harman, however, had individuals capable of breaking free and making big plays. One drove toward the basket and launched a running one hander to put his team on the board, though Dusty Smith on the very next Wildcat possession buried a three-pointer to put his team up 13-2. Next, Vandevander took a steal, drove toward the basket on a fast break, then dished the ball to Kisamore for a layup.
Beachler then took over for much of the rest of the quarter. He rebounded his own miss and scored a layup to put his team up 17-2, stole the ball and drove it in for another layup, then blocked a 17-foot shot. Josiah Kimble buried a three with 1:09 left to put his team up 24-4. Harman, however, scored the last basket of the quarter with a precise pass to a cutter who made a layup to make the score 24-6.
Pendleton County’s athletes could have individually broken down the Harman 2-3 zone, but elected instead to run their offensive plays all the way through before looking for shots. They used passes instead of drives to advance the ball, often finding and making good open baskets.
Harman, conversely, often found themselves pressured by the Wildcat defense into a more street ball style. Individual players for their squad made plays on both ends of the court, particularly in making unlikely shots. Their players also demonstrated good ball handling skills under pressure. Wildcat coach Jeremy Bodkin praised the Panthers under their first-year coach, saying “Harman will be good.” He added that they have talented players who will continue to grow as a team and improve.
The second quarter opened almost as it closed, with a Kimble three-pointer putting his team up 27-6. His shot was closely followed by a Connor Armentrout tip in to put the score at 29-6. Chase Owens at the four-minute mark drove past a defender to score a layup. Pendleton County ended their full court pressure and, for the most part, pulled their defense inside the three-point line, but Harman continued to struggle.
For the rest of the first half, the Wildcats held Harman’s offense at bay while carefully building a large lead.
Pendleton County did not lessen their intensity with a 39-10 halftime advantage, but Harman opened scoring with a three-pointer 10 seconds into the action. Vandevander answered with his own deep shot to put the Wildcats up 42-13. With 6:21 left, Beachler took a pass from the left foul line extended and showed his long strides, taking one dribble to get to the hoop for an easy layup.
The third quarter saw Harman showing impressive shooting range. With the defense nipping at their heels around the three-point line, Panther shooters hit from NBA range. The Wildcats continued to counter with Dillon Smith using tight and aggressive defense to take a steal to the basket for a layup. Kimble closed scoring in the quarter with a three-pointer to put the team up 61-22.
Harman kept clawing at the Wildcats in the fourth quarter. At the 7:31 mark, despite tight defense by Dillon Smith, a Harman player made a turnaround move near the baseline to sink a 10-foot shot. Brayden Beachler shortly thereafter wrestled an offensive rebound away from a Panther, scoring a layup that extended the lead to 66-28. Dusty Smith followed that by getting his team the ball back when he took a hard charge.
Cashton Kisamore remained active around the basket, grabbing rebounds and playing strong defense. With 5:34 left in the game, he jumped a pass, got a steal, then drove coast to coast to put his team up 69-28. Shortly after, Dillon Smith executed a ball fake on the outside, took two dribbles left, and confidently sank a 17-foot shot. With less that three minutes left, Brayden Beachler took a precise outlet pass from Armentrout in for a layup at the other end.
Three-pointers from Brayden Beachler and Dillon Smith, plus a running one hander from Harman, closed out scoring in the game. The Wildcats prevailed 86-35.
On Wednesday, Pendleton County, currently ranked 8th in single A in the coaches’ poll, hosted 2nd ranked Tucker County. Tomorrow, they travel to Richwood.
Scoring: Clayton Kisamore 17, Jacob Beachler 15, Brayden Beachler 12, Dillon Smith 10, Kimble 9, Vandevander 7, Cashton Kisamore 7, Dusty Smith 5, Owens 2, Armentrout 2.