(January 23rd, 2015) – WEST UNITY: The Panthers pulled ahead from the early onset of the game, and never looked back.
The visitors from Stryker made the short trip to West Unity with the intent of taking down the Cadets of Hilltop. And that’s exactly what they did, winning the contest 75-54.
Quick to find a rhythm, Parker Ruffer made sure Stryker got off to a great start. The senior put up 7 points in the first period, including a make from beyond the arc. Fellow fourth year Panther Tanner Clingaman also knocked down a triple in the opening quarter. A third senior, Brannan Woolace contributed to Stryker’s strong beginning as well, adding 2 points to the Panthers’ 23 point first quarter.
Hilltop had a balanced offensive attack in the early goings of the contest. The Sophomore duo of Quinn Smith and Tim Maneval each hit a three in the opening stanza. Senior Jalen Towers chipped in 4 points to begin the game as well. As a team, the Cadets managed 15 points in the first quarter.
The Ruffer and Clingaman combination continued to dominate offensively in the second quarter. At 6’5” tall, Ruffer moved in a bit closer to the rim in the period, racking up 6 more points in the process. Not to be outdone, Clingaman hit on 2 more three-point attempts, also scoring another 6 points. This made up the bulk of Stryker’s 20 point second period.
For the Cadets, Smith increased his production from the first quarter, putting up 6 points in the second. Maneval connected on another three-point shot in the period as well, which earned him the entirety of his 3 points in that span. It was this duet of scorers that accounted for most of Hilltop’s 13 points before the half.
Going into the visitors locker room, Stryker had build a significant lead over Hilltop, 43-28.
Scoring slowed down for both teams in the third quarter. Smith was one of the few Hilltop players to register a field goal right after the half, contributing another 2 points to the Cadet cause.
Clingaman refused to stop shooting from long range, putting down another three in the third period. Slowing down a bit, Ruffer still managed to score another 2 points for the Panthers. Woolace led the team through the drought, however, offering 4 points to his team’s efforts.
Both squads totaled 9 points in the third quarter. This put the score at 52-37, in favor of the Panthers. Hilltop would need an exceptional offensive performance during the fourth quarter in order to march their way back into the contest.
It was Smith who delivered that performance. With 11 points down the stretch, the sophomore standout pulled out all the stops in a furious attempt to bring his team back from the 15 point deficit. Teammate Kelby Grime did his part as well, making a three in the game’s final quarter. In all, Hilltop managed 17 points to end the contest.
In the end, it was all for naught, however. Ruffer and Clingaman each registered only a single field goal in the final period, but that didn’t the Panthers from exploding for 25 points to close out the game. Clingaman again hit on a three-point attempt, giving him a successful long range shot in each and every period of the contest.
For the game, Ruffer used his versatility to give his team 19 points. Clingaman’s accurate shooting added up to 17 points, most of which came from his 5 threes. Woolace contributed 12 points to the win as well.
Smith was the offense for the Cadets. The young leader totaled 26 points to lead all scorers. Maneval put up 7 points, based heavily upon his pair of triples. Towers and Grime each chipped in 6 points in the loss.
Free throws played a vital role in the game. Stryker made 17 of their 22 attempts from the line, as they made good on 77% of their shots. By contrast, the hometown Cadets went just 12 for 20 from the charity stripe, good for a 60% average. More attempts and a higher success rate from the free throw line is typically tough for an opponent to overcome.
Hilltop turned in a solid offensive performance on Friday. Unfortunately for them, Stryker was simply unstoppable on that night.