BREEZE RALLY FALLS SHORT AGAINST KNIGHTS
Panama CIty drops home game to first place KnightsUpdated Sunday February 17, 2013 by American Basketball League.
SPRINGFIELD — Derrio Green doesn’t deserve all the credit for his team’s comeback, nor does he deserve all the blame for his team’s late collapse.
But there is no denying he played a major role in both.
Behind Green’s explosive performance offensively, the Panama City Breeze stormed back from a 21-point deficit in the third quarter and briefly held the lead late, but defensive letdowns sabotaged the Breeze’s effort in a 100-94 loss to Emerald Coast in an American Basketball League game at The Ram House at Rutherford High School on Saturday.
The Breeze slipped to 2-7 overall. Emerald Coast improved to 6-3.
Peter Olafeso’s putback gave the visiting Knights an 80-59 lead with two minutes left in the third quarter before Green erupted with 10 points in 90 seconds to pull Panama City within 80-69 going into the final quarter. Green added another 3-pointer to open the quarter, and layups by Kevin Willis Jr. and Damian Staples capped a 17-0 run that trimmed the Breeze’s deficit to 80-76.
Matt Barrow’s hook shot in the lane put Emerald Coast on top 84-78, but Green knocked down another 3-pointer as part of a 9-0 spurt that gave the Breeze a 91-87 advantage with 3 minutes left.
Emerald Coast’s P.J. Turner reversed the tide, drilling a 3-pointer over Green and then beating Green for a layin to put the Knights back ahead 92-91. Emerald Coast finished with nine straight points and led 96-91 with a minute to play. Turner beat Green off the dribble and added a floater in the paint with 35 seconds left, and Turner’s layup with 15 seconds remaining sealed the Knights’ victory.
“We’re starting to trust each other defensively,” Panama City coach Ty Fisher said. “It comes down to accountability. When we’re down 20 points, it’s never a problem. We definitely can come back and snap a 20-point lead like that. But we got happy with what we had done. There is an ebb and flow and peaks and valleys, but you have to stay consistent and play hard the whole game. I don’t think we had a consistent effort.”
Green led the Breeze with a team-high 24 points, including six 3-pointers. Whether he was open or guarded, elevating straight up on his shot or falling over from contact, Green was exceptional on the offensive end in the second half. But Fisher wanted to remind Green and his teammates that more work has to be done at the other end on defense.
“He can’t shoot by himself,” Fisher said. “Someone set a screen for him. The point guard sees him coming and makes the pass. Everyone is picking you up as a unit. What he has to understand is that there are two sides. You have to work for us. We’ll work for you down here (on offense). You have to work for us (on defense).”
Kevin Willis Jr. was a workhorse for the Breeze and finished with 21 points, and Donnell Mack contributed with 16 points.
Turner poured in a game-high 27 points for Emerald Coast, which led 29-25 after the first quarter and 51-42 at halftime.
The teams now are separated by four games in the conference standings, but both coaches noted that the disparity in talent between the conference’s six teams is negligible.
“It’s not far off from the first team to the last team,” Emerald Coast coach Wayemon Powell said. “Panama City is a good solid team with some good shooters. They made us nervous for a second.”