Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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February 2, 2014

Panthers pull away from Cougars in fourth

Western closes on 16-0 run.

FLORA — A strong run in the fourth quarter powered Western’s boys basketball team to a 79-54 victory over Carroll here Saturday night.

The Panthers had a 53-47 lead at the end of the third quarter. They opened the final quarter with eight quick points (five came off of two steals) for a 61-47 lead with 7:10 left, causing Carroll to call a timeout.

Carroll responded with a 7-2 run to draw within nine at the 5:46 mark — but from there it was all Western as the Panthers scored the final 16 points to secure their fifth straight win.

Des Balentine led Western (8-3) with 23 points, followed by Evan Warden with 19 and Austin Weaver with 16.

“I am very proud of our team,” Western coach Bart Miller said. “We battled real hard and we didn’t get down on each other or with the circumstances of the game.”

Western’s defense was key in the fourth quarter. Carroll shot 2 of 10 from the field in the quarter, including 1 of 4 from the 3-point arc. Carroll also had five turnovers.

“We came out mixing it up with zone and man,” Miller said. “[Carroll post Jarin] Bush is tough to guard. He is so big and strong in posting up, we had to make sure that we had help side. With [Brandon] Dillon there with his athleticism, it could have bothered us, but credit to our guys defensively there. We held them to seven points in the fourth, and great team victory for us.”

Carroll (5-7) was down 36-27 at halftime, but used an 11-1 run for a 38-37 lead. Dillon and Bush combined for the 11 points.

“Our goal [in the second half] was to get one possession at a time, get a stop after stop, and cut this thing down to a one- or two-possession game,” Carroll coach Matt Weaver said. “They did [cut it down], and we took the lead for a second. I was proud of them.

“We ran out of gas a little bit, and we went back to being flat again. We have to find a way to get through those spurts for a longer period of time.”

Carroll’s last lead of the game came when Jared Miller hit a 3-pointer for a 41-39 edge at the 4:00 mark of the third quarter.

Justin Willoughby led Carroll with 15 points. Dillon added 12 and Bush had 10.

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