Panthers Drop Thrilling Opener
Dryden—The season opener for the Tompkins Cortland Community College men's basketball team came down to the last shot Tuesday night. Unfortunately for the home team, the three-pointer in the closing seconds didn't fall, leaving the Panthers on the wrong end of a 67-65 final against Mohawk Valley Community College.
The game featured seven lead changes and the score was tied seven different times. Early in the first half the score was deadlocked at 12-12 when the Panthers scored six straight to begin a run that saw them pull away to a ten-point lead at 31-21 with just under four minutes left in the half. After a TC3 basket that would have pushed the lead to 12 was waived for basket interference, Mohawk Valley ended the half by outscoring the Panthers 11-2 to make it a one-point game the break, 33-32.
The second half opened with one of those lead changes, as Mohawk Valley moved ahead 34-33 in the opening minute. TC3 responded with three-pointers by Bryce Elie (Queens H.S. of Teaching/Queens) and Jailaan Kinsey (Jamesville-Dewitt H.S./Dewitt) to lead by five, but Mohawk Valley came back to tie it at 37-37 with 16 minutes left to play. The lead changed hands one more time before Mohawk Valley moved to its biggest lead of the night, 55-46, with 7:45 left to play. Seven straight for TC3, including five points from Jamell Walker (Mount Vernon H.S./Mount Vernon), made it a two point game with under seven to play. The Panthers eventually tied the game at 58-58 on a free throw by Tyrone Clark (Elmira Free Academy/Elmira) and took a 60-58 lead on two more free throws from Clark. After Mohawk Valley tied it at 60-60, Walker put TC3 up 62-60 on a basket with 2:20 left to play. A three-point play by Mohawk Valley a minute later put the visitors ahead 63-62 with 1:18 left on the clock. A missed three-pointer and two missed free throws left the door open for Mohawk Valley to extend their lead, which they did with a pair of free throws to make it 65-62 with 27 seconds left. Kinsey made one of two free throws with 17 seconds left, cutting the lead to 65-63. After a foul, Mohawk Valley made two free throws to make it 67-63, but Kinsey quickly drove the ball down the floor for a two-point basket to make it 67-65 with less than 10 seconds left. After TC3 forced a quick turnover, the Panthers had the ball down by two in the closing seconds. The Panthers got a good look at a long three-pointer, but the shot wouldn't fall as the buzzer rang.
The home team shot a better percentage from the floor and had a slight advantage on the boards, but lost the battle of free throws. Mohawk Valley connected on 67.9 percent of its free throw attempts for the game, including 80 percent in the second. TC3 made 46.2 percent for the game and just 37.5 percent in the second half.
Three Panthers shared the scoring leadership with 13 points each: Elie, Walker, and Damani Ashton (Mount Vernon H.S./Mount Vernon). Walker added a team-high 15 rebounds and Elie pulled down 10 boards to join him with a double-double. Kinsey had nine points to go with seven assists.
TC3 plays at Jamestown Community College Saturday.