LANSING — A year ago, the Spencer-Van Etten Panthers boy’s basketball team finished an impressive season earning the No. 1 seed in the Class C Section IV playoffs. However, the Panthers were upset in the quarterfinal round by Newfield as they finished with an overall record of 15-3.
With a few key players being lost to gradutaion last year, the Panthers still return an experienced group that is led by junior guard James Sutherlin. The team dropped their first game of the season to Greene on Friday, 62-45. The Trojans seem to be one of the favorites in Class C this season.
Sutherlin made sure that his team would not drop another game in the annunal Lansing Turkey Tournament as the Panthers took down Thomas Edison by a score of 58-48 with Sutherlin contributing a team-high 17 points.
“James is going to play a large role on both sides of the floor this year,” said Head Coach Jeremy Kastenhuber. “He can take away a lot from the other team defensively, and he gets to the rim pretty easily as well.”
The Panthers started off hot in the first half as they broke out of the gates with a 32-18 halftime lead thanks to nine first-half points from Sutherlin. The first half was highlighted by transition offense resulting from turnovers that seemed to favor Spencer-Van Etten in the early going. They also held a clear advantage in the rebounding category.
The Spartans showed huge signs of life in the third quarter as they opened up the second half on a 13-1 run to get within two points of S-VE. That run was piloted by sophomore Xander Burch who added 11 points in the third quarter alone with three three-pointers as part of his 17 total points.
Once Edison was able to tie the ball game, Sutherlin took over once again in the fourth quarter to add seven more points and secure the first win of the season for the Panthers. The 10-point win began and ended with the transition offense, which seems to be the focal point for S-VE this season with athletes that can run up and down the court in a hurry.
“This group’s been together for a while, and I’m looking for us to improve every day,” said Kastenhuber. “Hopefully come sectional time, we can put the pieces together to be able to make a run.”
With the victory, the Panthers move to 1-1 on the early season and take third place in the Turkey Tournament. The team will be back in action at home on Tuesday, Dec. 3, weather permitting, when they will take on Trumansburg.