CHANUTE — For 36 minutes of action, it looked like an upset was brewing that could shake up the entire Jayhawk Conference. Unfortunately for Allen’s Red Devils, Neosho County Community College put on display what has made it a terror for the entire conference this season.
The Panthers pulled away from Allen Community College in the final 4 minutes for a hard-fought 79-74 win.
Allen (12-11, 4-9 Jayhawk) entered Monday’s contest with a considerable disadvantage with size inside. Neosho (20-3, 11-2 Jayhawk) typically starts a frontline with 6-8 Richard Granberry and 6-6 Freddie McSwain, who combine for nearly 32 points and 16 rebounds a game.
“Neosho has a couple nice bigs,” Allen guard Darnell Jones-Bowie said. “Our coaches told us that we got to get stops and get out and run.”
The Red Devils counter with a lineup that includes four guards on the floor. So in order to stay competitive with their rivals to the south, Red Devil coach Andy Shaw knew his team would have to push the pace and rely on their guard-play and athleticism to force the Panthers to play their style.
The Panthers matched that pace, which made for a very fast-paced game.
“That was a great game,” Shaw said. “I hate that we lost, but that was a fun game to coach. Both teams stepped up and played well.”
Shaw’s starting backcourt tandem of Jones-Bowie and Jermaine Long got the offense rolling early with three-point baskets giving Allen a quick lead.
“You have to get off to a good start against teams like this,” Shaw said. “With them being the home-court team you can’t let them get the momentum right away.”
In a game that would end up being defined by offensive spurts for each side, Neosho answered back quickly and was aided by a technical foul on Allen sophomore guard DaRon Mims. The Panthers took the lead back and throughout the first half the teams exchanged offensive runs before settling at halftime with Allen holding a 38-37 lead.
With the game knotted at 40 early in the second period, Mims would make his presence known in a positive way for the Red Devils. The guard from Oklahoma City hoisted a three from the right wing while absorbing contact from a Panther defender.
No foul was called on the play, but the ball smashed though the net to give Allen a three-point lead.
Another three from Mims made the lead 46-42 just a few moments later, but a tip-in from Neosho’s Tyson Downing and another technical foul called against the Allen bench resulted in a tie game once again.
The teams exchanged buckets and remained very close on the scoreboard until just under 5 minutes to play when Granberry got loose inside for two of his game-high 26 points to cut the Panthers’ lead to one.
“He is a load in the paint,” Shaw said of Granberry. “He is tough to stop one-on-one and we even tried to dig in the post and we still didn’t have success. He was scoring through the double-team.”
The next trip down the floor, they found Granberry inside again and the big man dished off his only assist of the night to a cutting Marc Moon to take the lead.
Moon created for himself the next possession and extended the lead to 3. With the Red Devils cold from behind the arc, the Panthers built the lead to 8 following a pair of Downing buckets.
Jones-Bowie cut the margin back to 6 with 1:09 remaining and hit a three-pointer in the game’s final 30 seconds to give him a team-high 17 points, but timely foul shooting from the Panthers proved too much for the Red Devils to overcome.
“My teammates told me to keep being aggressive,” said Jones-Bowie on his big scoring night. “They told me whenever I saw a shot to just shoot it. They gave me confidence and I fed off them.”
Neosho shot 43 free throws in the game, hitting 30 of those. Guard Jalen Jackson netted all six of his opportunities from the charity stripe in the game’s closing minute to seal the win.
By contrast, Allen reached the foul line only 14 times in the game.
The Red Devils also lost the rebounding margin decidedly. The Panthers grabbed 50 rebounds with the Red Devils only managing 29. This led to a 14-0 advantage in second chance points for Neosho.
Allen is back in action Wednesday night when they host Coffeyville Community College.
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