Hounds take down Panthers in weekend games
FT. MADISON — Mt. Pleasant needed someone to call off the hounds.
The Panther boys’ basketball team suffered a 57-50 loss to the Bloodhounds at Ft. Madison on Friday night, and the Grayhounds got the best of the Panthers in a road trip to Burlington on Saturday, 49-46.
With the Friday night loss, the Panthers’ SEC win streak was stopped at 46 games — more than five years undefeated.
“It had to end at some point,” Mt. Pleasant Coach Paul Rundquist said. “This is good for the league — it keeps things competitive, and competition makes better teams.”
Despite the loss, the Panthers (11-5 overall) still have a grasp on the conference title, and they are guaranteed a share of it.
They’re now 6-1 in the SEC, the only team with one loss. Ft. Madison is 4-2 and Keokuk is 2-3, Fairfield and Washington are each 1-4.
If Mt. Pleasant wins its home game against Washington on Feb. 8, the Panthers will claim the SEC title; a loss would mean that they could split the crown with Ft. Madison, provided the Bloodhounds win their last two conference games.
At Ft. Madison on Friday, the Panthers shot 20-for-37 despite facing an aggressive Bloodhound defense.
“They (the Bloodhounds) played well, but I thought we had really good looks,” Rundquist said.
Still, the Panthers managed to score only 50 points, nearly 10 below their average.
“This is a tough place to play,” Rundquist said of the Ft. Madison gym, which was packed for the SEC matchup, just as the Bloodhounds had hoped.
The Panthers were playing short-handed in the game, with starter Dalton Conrad still on the bench due to injury.
“It’s going to be that way for the rest of the season,” Rundquist said. “Dalton (Conrad) is probably done — he’s out four to six weeks.”
To compound the Panthers’ troubles at guard, Cameron Frank spent more time on the bench than usual due to fouls. The starters left some openings, and other Mt. Pleasant players stepped up.
“(Trey) Magnani and (Connor) Shull had great minutes off the bench; they sparked us,” Rundquist said.
After going down 16-14 at the end of the first quarter, the Panthers kept it close and eventually took their first lead of the game in the second quarter.
They had help from Shull, who made a 3-pointer and a layup within two minutes. Mt. Pleasant then went up, 28-26, just before halftime on Magnani’s and-1 layup.
Brant Shelman opened the third quarter with a shot from deep to give the Panthers a five-point lead.
“We had opportunities,” Rundquist said. “We were up by five, (but) then we had three straight possessions where we couldn’t score.”
The Panthers managed only nine points in the third quarter, and had their last lead of the game just three minutes after halftime, at 31-30.
They would come within one point with less than a minute left, when Ryan Hanna hit a pair of free throws to make it 51-50, but that would be the Panthers’ last basket.
Hanna finished with 12 points on the night, second on the team to Faith Pope’s 14 points.
Ft. Madison’s Miles Wentzien had a game-high 22 points.
The Bloodhounds made six straight free throws down the stretch to seal their win — something the Panthers struggled with all night.
“We’ve got to make free throws,” Rundquist said.
On the night, the Panthers shot better from the field than they did from the line, making 54.1 percent of their field goals and only 41.6 percent of their free throws.
The Panthers were five-for-12 from the stripe; Ft. Madison made 11 of 18 free throw attempts.
Mt. Pleasant’s free throw shooting improved against the Grayhounds on Saturday, as they went nine-for-14 (64.3 percent), but the rest of their shooting did not.
Mt. Pleasant made 16 of 42 attempts from the floor in their second game of the weekend, or 38.1 percent, and managed only 46 points in the road loss.
A six-point second quarter haunted the Panthers, who went up 12-8 in the first eight minutes of the game.
Both teams had a 28-point second half, and the Panthers came up shy of a win.
Mt. Pleasant was led by Pope’s 17 points on Saturday. He was the only Mt. Pleasant player to score in double figures, and he also grabbed 12 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
The Panthers get back on the court Thursday when they host West Branch. They follow the JV and varsity girls’ games, starting at 4:30 p.m.
MT. PLEASANT (50)
vs. Ft. Madison
Logan Mulford 2 0-0 6, Connor Shull 3 0-1 8, Trey Magnani 2 1-3 5, Cameron Frank 1 0-2 2, Brant Shelman 1 0-0 3, Ryan Hanna 5 2-2 12, Faith Pope 6 2-4 14
3-point goals: Mulford 2, Shull 2, Shelman
MT. PLEASANT (46)
Connor Shull 2 0-1 6, Trey Magnani 1 0-0 3, Cameron Frank 2 1-2 5, Brant Shelman 3 0-0 8, Ryan Hanna 2 3-4 7, Faith Pope 6 5-5 17
3-point goals: Shull 2, Magnani