Charles City’s season concludes with loss to Middlesex
Similar to what had been the story of Charles City’s Panthers’ hoops season, an encounter with Middlesex’s Chargers on Feb. 8 presented a “pick your poison” scenario.
The invading Chargers placed six players in double figures as they defeated Charles City 78-64 in a contest where the score was closer than the actual play of the game.
Charles City’s only lead of the night came on Kameron Johnson’s three-pointer early in the game (3-2). But from there, the visitors exploited mismatches in Charles City’s defenses. First, it was Charger big man Jaden Reed scoring six of his team’s next eight points in the paint. Moments later, forward Deandre Jessie added with three points of his own in what resulted in a 13-0 Middlesex run. Both teams exchanged scores for the remainder of the quarter, with Middlesex up 21-14 at the end of one.
The hosts’ offense stalled in the second quarter, as they watched seven different Chargers put the ball in the hoop. Another baker’s dozen run by Middlesex finally came to the end with Charles City’s Kobi Trull converted a lay-in with six seconds remaining until halftime. But by then, Middlesex owned a comfortable 41-20 lead.
Back-to-back runners by Charles City’s Kameron Johnson started the third quarter on a positive note. But his two-point baskets could not offset consecutive three-pointers by Raquan Marshall. Despite Johnson’s 12 points in the frame, only two points were shaved from Middlesex’s lead (60-41) as the transition into the fourth began.
A Kameron Johnson lay-in combined with DeAndre’ Gardner’s follow and Davon Johnson’s free throws cut the deficit down to 15 three minutes into the fourth. After Middlesex bumped it back up with a Carlos Marshall lay-up, Panther forward De’Rome Chreitien’s three returned the gap to 14 (64-50). But the Marshall duo combined for the next six points to stretch the lead to 20 points as Middlesex conquered the contest and ended the hosts’ season.
After the game, Panther head coach VaShaun Otey said that his young team learned a lesson in the battle against the Chargers.
“Tonight, it was a game with experience versus inexperience,” he said. “But they have been learning all year.
“Our record doesn’t depict our growth that he had this season,” Otey continued, pointing to his team’s improvement despite ending with a 2-18 record. “I am proud of the way we played all season.”
As for next year, the coach said both he and his team have to prepare for the challenges ahead. But with all five starters slated to return along with six bench players, his team should have an advantage the next they step on the court.
“The offseason is going to be key for us,” the head coach added. “We got to get some chemistry. Our skill set is there and it’s working and learning each other that will make it better.
“I also got to get back and study as I am also learning from this experience,” Otey said, commenting about his transition from coaching girls to coaching boys. “The speed is different, and I grew with them. I expect to grow with them in the offseason as well.”
Kameron Johnson’s 17 points was a game high in the season finale for the Panthers. Davon Johnson scored eight, while Justis Crawley and Steven Trull tossed in seven apiece, Juwuan Bowman dropped five, Justin Bradby and Kobi Trull each added four, Chretien scored three, and Gardner and Leo Charity each chipped in with two.
Reed’s 15 points led Middlesex in scoring.