BOYS' PREP BASKETBALL: Big men lead Panthers past Eagles (01/07)

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By Greg Crews



By GREG CREWS gcrews@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWN — Elizabethtown Panthers coach James Haire has not yet decided who will be his team’s starting center for the rest of the season, but going by Tuesday night’s results, there may not be a bad choice. The Panthers’ trio of centers combined for 29 points and 19 rebounds, dominating inside the paint and leading Elizabethtown to a 68-29 win over the visiting Fort Knox Eagles for its first 17th District win of the season. “We had a lot of size on them and everything, so we tried to get it down low as much as we can,” said Elizabethtown sophomore center Mitchell Henry, who recorded 12 points and 10 rebounds in just over 12 minutes. “We played good as a team, better than we had been playing.” Junior center Curtis Washington scored a game-high 14 points and grabbed four rebounds in 13 minutes for Elizabethtown (5-7, 1-1 district), while junior center Jake Goodman added three points and five rebounds in a little under 8 minutes. “There’s still a battle right now: Who will step in the post?” Haire said. “We switched the lineup a bit to see who would take command. Curtis and Henry played well tonight.” Junior forward Jamie Haire tallied 11 points, five rebounds and three assists for the Panthers, who pulled out to a 12-0 lead in the game’s first 4 minutes. “We just came out and executed,” Elizabethtown senior guard Derek Pfeiffer said. “We started off well, then we got kind of lackadaisical.” Fort Knox (2-8, 0-3) got on the board with a 15-footer from the right wing by senior guard Chris Walker 4 minutes into the game. The Eagles’ next field goal didn’t come until nearly 9 minutes later when Walker made a layup to cut the deficit to 27-6. After heading into halftime trailing 31-9, Fort Knox’s offense finally started to get into a groove in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Elizabethtown’s offense stepped it up in the third quarter as well. A two-handed slam by Washington — one of his three rim-rattling dunks — gave Elizabethtown a 45-16 lead before a free throw by Jamie Haire made it a 30-point game. “That gets us pretty pumped up and it definitely gets the crowd behind us,” Henry said of Washington’s dunks. “It’s good to have a guy that can do that.” Elizabethtown led 57-22 heading to the fourth quarter and stretched it to 63-24 within 5 minutes. “We played up and down, which is pretty much the story of our season, but I thought we played alright for the most part,” said Haire, whose team has rebounded from a 1-5 start by winning four out of its last six. “We’re just trying to get better every night. “It was a pretty big shock at the beginning of the season when we found out we wouldn’t have (senior forward Chris) Gohman. We weren’t expecting that and it was hard on the team and it’s still hard, not having one of our best players and one of our only players with any varsity experience. It’s still an adjustment that we’re trying to deal with.” UP NEXT: Elizabethtown plays at 17th District rival Central Hardin at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Fort Knox hosts North Hardin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Greg Crews can be reached at 505-1754