The last time the Phillipsburg Panthers won an Mid-Continent League Tourament, head coach Keith Sides was 2 years old. The last time the Plainville Cardinals took the title, was last year. Infact, the Cards are the two time defending champs.
It's not that the Panthers haven't had chances over the last 38 seasons. Phillipsburg lost in the title game in 2001 and 2005.
Phillipsburg looked like a team that wanted to get the drama over early, using an 8-0 run midway through the first quarter to lead 19-9 after the first quarter.
"(Nolan Weiser) and Hadley (Gillum) they can hurt people really easily because they are two bigs athletic kids who can put the ball on the floor and can make stuff happen," said Sides." So we had to defend well and make the other guys beat us."
Which they did, for most of the game. But not in the second quarter. Gillum and Weiser both hit big shots and helped the Cardinals pull to with in seven at the break.
But in the second half, the Panther got their own offense going, especially from the outside. One of the few places they have not been outstanding this season. By the end of three quarters, P'burg saw it's lead grow to 23.
"In the second half we started making some threes," said Sides. "Teams sit in the two three to take away from our big guys inside and we gotta have some guys step up and make threes. We had some threes made tonight."
In the forth Phillipsburg mostly ran clock, and then both team emptied the benches with about four minutes left to play, before the game settled on it's 65-48 final in favor of the Panthers.
Sides said winning the first MCL title since 1975 is big for a team and a town that had been so close to break out success.
"The town really needs that. We've been close before and just never really got over the hump," said Sides. "Thev've been successful, but as a team this is really going to the next level."
Seth Derr lead the Panthers with 16, Sean Newlan added 12. Gillum lead Plainville with 16 points.
In the third place game Ellis easily got by Smith Center 80-52. Stockton took fifth with a 50-35 win over Norton Community and in the seventh place game Hill City beat Trego Community 67-53.