Scott Hodges wasn’t thrilled with the outcome on Friday night but was more than pleased with his team’s effort and toughness against one of the state’s top squads.
The No. 11 Broncos fell 61-39 to No. 3 Putnam City North in the 2022 Bank 7 Holiday Classic championship game at the Mustang Event Center.
Missing two of their top players didn’t help. Neither did a 0-for-9 start on mostly open three-point attempts in the first half. But Hodges was impressed all the same, especially after two wins on Tuesday and Wednesday to reach the finals.
“I told the guys that although we obviously wanted to win, taking second place in this tournament without two of our best players is nothing to hang our heads about,” Hodges said outside the locker room following the loss to PC North.
“This team is just going to keep getting better and become a team people don’t want to see in the second semester.”
The Broncos (7-4) struggled early, going 4-for-19 from the field overall while surrendering a 29-12 lead to the Panthers in the first half. They bounced back in the third quarter, cutting North’s lead by four with a 12-8 run, however, the Panthers closed things out with a 24-point fourth.
“I’m proud of the way we battled in the second half,” Hodges said. “I thought we played really well defensively we just didn’t make shots and struggled offensively a little bit.
“That 0-for-9 from three in the first half kind of took the win out of us a little bit. Wish we could have made a few more shots, but overall, I’m proud of the effort.”
Chance Rodgers (So.) drives past PC North’s Anthony Leonard during Mustang’s 61-39 loss to the Panthers on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, at the Mustang Event Center. The Broncos fell to North in the Bank 7 Holiday Classic championship game. (Photo by Ron Lane / Lane Images)
Emerging sophomore Roman Miller led the Broncos with 13 points and seven rebounds. He went 5-for-14 and was aggressive on both ends. He was also named to the Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team following the game.
“He played well and had a really good week,” Hodges said. “He’s a young player and we talked to him about his energy level and effort. He did a really good job with that and showed that he has a lot of potential.”
Keegan Bass (Sr.), who was solid offensively and defensively the entire tournament, scored eight points with four rebounds and two assists and helped hold North guards Zander Baker and Khai Brown to just seven points combined.
“It’s just great to see him healthy and able to stay on the floor,” Hodges said of Bass, who has missed most of the last two seasons due to injury. “He brings such a competitive fire to our team, and he took on one of the toughest matchups in the state tonight and held his own. We’re definitely lucky to have him.”
Bryson Sharp (Sr.) scored seven points with two rebounds while LeBryan Hayes (Jr.) added six points and four boards off the bench. Chance Rodgers (So.) and Thai Bond (Sr.) combined for five points.
CJ Smith led PC North (11-0) with 23 points and eight rebounds while KeJuan Payne scored 14 points with seven boards, and four assists. Anthony Leonard added 13 points. The Panthers remained unbeaten after winning the rematch from last year’s title game.
“They have good players, and they present a lot of challenges defensively,” Hodges said of the Panthers. “I thought we showed a lot of toughness and thought that was one of the best defensive games we’ve played all season.
“If we play like that with our full squad back and start making shots, we’re going to be fine second semester.”
The Broncos return to the court on Jan. 13 against No. 9 Westmoore (5-2) at the Event Center.