Panther youth key to Tourny win

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Photo courtesy of Florida Tech Athletics. Photo by Matt Starkey.

Florida Tech entered the Thanksgiving Tournament Championship game short-handed, but the Panthers weren’t going to make any excuses in the win over North Greenville.

The Panthers were without leading scorer Corbin Jackson and top three-point threat Randy Echols in the game, but after a last-minute defensive change and a complete team effort, the Panthers were victorious, 72-55.

“I have been doing this 35 years and sometimes you just have a gut instinct,” men’s basketball coach Billy Mims said. “We are not a zone team, I don’t like to play zone but I was watching them play yesterday and we have one zone that I thought would work against them.

“Literally, two minutes before we started the game I made the decision,” Mims said. “I told them as we are waiting to introduce starters. Nothing but zone.”

That change ultimately paid off with Florida Tech jumping to a quick lead and forcing 22 turnovers. The Panthers also limited to Crusaders to 41.8 percent shooting from the field.

Sophomore guard Patrick Anderson was named the tournament MVP, scoring 15 points with six assists, six steals and three rebounds. For the tournament, Anderson scored 35 points with 10 assists and eight steals.

“I think the key was coming out and being aggressive on the offensive and defensive end. Turnovers turn into points and I feel that is where we got started,” Anderson said. “This is definitely a big win. Those guys [Jackson and Echols] are leaders and we are just glad we could come out and win for them.”

Sophomore forward, Sam Daniel, also had a monster game putting up 23 points, seven rebounds and four steals in the game.

“I said to Sam before the game, there is no Corbin Jackson beside you today so it has to be Sam Daniel time,” Mims said. “He goes out there and has a monster game.”

The two sophomores were not the only Panther youth coming out big. Robert Booth stepped into the starting lineup for Jackson and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds to go with six points. Jermohn Queen came off the bench to add 12 points and Jordan Majors finished with nine points.

Anderson and Daniel, as well as Georgia Southwestern’s Adam Thoseby, North Greenville’s Justin Dotson and Korval McElroy, and Omar de Jesus of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras were all selected to the all tournament team.

The Panthers will return to conference play traveling to Eckerd on Dec. 2.