Panthers drop first games of the season
By Justin Scrimshire
ONL Sports Reporter
The 2022-23 high school basketball season has started with a pair of losses for the Panthers as they dropped their season opener last Tuesday to Paden, 46-61, followed up by a 73-32 loss to McLoud on Friday night.
First year coach, Chris Henry indicated prior to the season that his Panthers faced an uphill battle this year as there were no returning starters from last year on the squad. “This is their team now, and they have to learn to play together and trust each other,” said Henry.
The Panthers opened their season against 16th ranked, Class-B Paden Pirates who are 6-0 early to start the year. Okemah scored the game’s first five points thanks to a two-pointer from PJ Franks and a three-pointer from Nash Smith, but Paden returned with an 8-0 run that gave the Pirates a lead they would never relinquish and finished the first quarter with a 12-8 lead over the Panthers.
Paden outscored Okemah 18-10 in the second quarter, taking a 30-18 lead into halftime. The Panthers held pace with the Pirates in the second half, being outscored 16-13 by the Pirates in the third quarter but matched a 15-15 scoring effort in the fourth quarter. However, the 12-point deficit in the first half was too much to overcome as the Panthers suffered their first loss of the season, 46-61.
Okemah’s second game of the week occurred on Friday, against 4-A McLoud on homecoming night. Again the Panthers struck first, taking a 4-0 lead as PJ Franks and Andrew Swayze scored quickly for Okemah. But McLoud responded with a 17-0 run. A pair of three-pointers from Cooper Curry and Uriah Christer brought an end to the first quarter with the Panthers trailing 17-10.
McLoud outscored Okemah 20-6 in the second quarter, taking a commanding 37-16 lead into halftime. McLoud then blistered the Panthers in the third quarter, outscoring Okemah 32-8 and led 69-24 as the game entered the final quarter.
The Panthers held McLoud to just four points in the fourth quarter but the damage acquired through the first three quarters proved terminal as the final score reflected a 32-73 loss. The Panthers will take the court again on Thursday, inside the Tom Condict Panther Dome as Okemah will play host to the Okemah Invitational.
This year’s tournament will include Newcastle, Wewoka, Seminole, Henryetta, Hilldale, Bristow, North Rock Creek and Okemah. The Panthers will square off against North Rock Creek on Thursday, Dec 8, at 5:30 p.m.