HANDCHECKED: Jennings County’s Brysen Mills (left) gets a handful of jersey as Southwestern’s Michael Perry goes up for a short jumper and the Panthers’ Brad Hunt (50) backs up the play Saturday night in Hanover. (Staff photo by David Hill)
HANDCHECKED: Jennings County’s Brysen Mills (left) gets a handful of jersey as Southwestern’s Michael Perry goes up for a short jumper and the Panthers’ Brad Hunt (50) backs up the play Saturday night in Hanover. (Staff photo by David Hill)
Southwestern out-gunned Jennings County from 3-point land and made 11 of its 12 free throws, but the Rebels were no match for big Brad Hunt and the Panthers' inside game Saturday in Hanover.

Hunt, a 6-foot-9 center, had four thunderous dunks and Jennings County outscored Southwestern 48-20 on 2-pointers to roll to a 70-49 win in Southwestern's regular-season finale.

"We ran into a buzz-saw tonight," Southwestern coach Andy Firth said. "We had a game plan for three quarters and ran it exceptionally well. We started making mistakes and you can't make mistakes against Jennings County-like teams. Everything 10-folds in a hurry. They're going to capitalize on your mistakes."

Jennings County (12-8) jumped out to a 4-0 lead at the start of the game which included Hunt's first dunk of the game.

"I think he's a major Division I player," Firth said of Hunt. "We knew he was going to be a problem. We didn't have anybody who can match up to him. He can hit from the outside some, too, and he's their next-fastest person on the team and he transitions well."

Southwestern didn't go away. There was one lead change and a pair of ties in the first quarter before Jennings County's Don Leach sank a 3-pointer to give the Panthers' an 11-8 lead.

After that, the Rebels trailed the rest of the night despite pulling to within one at the three-minute mark on a pair of Tristan Embs free throws.

The Panthers scored five quick points on a 3-pointer by Bailey Sanders and a deuce by Tommy Taylor to take an 18-12 lead and force Firth to use a time-out at the two-minute mark.

"When we finally got rolling in the first quarter, we talked about making quick shots," Firth said. "That didn't work as we lost patience and had some travels and errant passes."

Zach Westerfield, Darius Whitson-Spegal and Nick Wyne all had 3-pointers for the Rebels in the first period but were outmatched by Hunt's eight points, five by Leach and four by Taylor. The Panthers missed a shot at the buzzer but still led 22-15 at the first break.

The Rebels remained within a possession during the early minutes of the second quarter, thanks to a four-point play by Mackenzy Withered and a basket by Michael Perry.

Jennings County began pulling away around the midway point of the second quarter on the strength of balanced scoring from Caleb Eder, Adrian Kirchner and the still-hot Hunt.

Embs made a pair of inside baskets late in the second period to bring the Rebels back to within nine (38-29) at halftime.

Jennings County went on a 12-5 run to open the third quarter that included a pair of steals that led to baskets. Whitson-Spegal tried to change the momentum with four straight points late, but another Hunt dunk gave the now-smoking Panthers a 52-38 lead at the endf of the period.

After four points by Hunt to open the fourth period, the Panthers led 52-38 and Hunt gave way to Taylor on the inside. Taylor responded by scoring 11 of his 17 points in the final period.

Southwestern's Stephen Howell sank a pair of free throws, then a buzzer-beater at the end to round out the Rebels' scoring.

Whitson-Spegal led Southwestern with 16 points while Embs scored 11.

"Darius is stepping it up a notch and got some good looks that led to baskets," Firth said. "Darius and Tristan are coming together as sectionals approach and that's a nice feeling."

Hunt finished with a game-high 22 points.

The Rebels are off this week before facing North Decatur in the opening round of the Class 2A sectional at South Ripley a week from Tuesday. Firth welcomes the pre-sectionals break.

"We need a week to prepare," he said. "Looking at the teams in the draw, you can pick your favorite but any team can be hot on a particular night. It's no easy road."

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SATURDAY'S BOYS GAME

at Hanover

JENNINGS CO. 70, SOUTHWESTERN 49



JENNINGS CO. 22 16 14 18 - 70

SOUTHWESTERN 15 14 9 11 - 49



JENNINGS CO. (12-8) - (c)Hunt 22, Taylor 17, (f)Leach 10, (g)Kirchner 6, (f)Eder 6, Mills 4, (g)Sanders 3, Woods 2, Scruggs 0, MacNamer 0, Euler 0.

SOUTHWESTERN (5-16) - (g)Whitson-Spegal 16, (f)Embs 11, (g)Westerfield 7, (f)Wyne 5, (g)Withered 4, Howell 4, Perry 2, Brooks 0, Hartman 0.



3-Point Goals - Jennings Co. 5 (Kirchner 2, Leach 2, Sanders 1), Southwestern 6 (Whitson-Spegal 2, Westerfield 1, Withered 1, Embs 1, Wyne 1). Total Fouls - Jennings Co. 15, Southwestern 7. Free Throws - Jennings Co. 7-9, Southwestern 11-12. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Jennings Co. visits New Albany Tuesday. Southwestern faces North Decatur in the opening round of the Class 2A sectional at South Ripley Feb. 26.