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Panther Power

Porter claims both National Conference championships

The Porter Panthers pose with the championship hardware. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

The force is strong with this Luke, too.

Luke Burnett brings the ball up court.

Porter fifth-grader Luke Burnett put on a dazzling display of shooting, ball handling and overall court mastery in driving the Panthers to a 41-29 win over Townsend in the National Conference championship game at the Blount County Elementary Basketball Tournament Friday at Heritage Middle School.

Burnett paced all scorers with 18 points, including three 3-pointers over the middle two quarters as Porter (19-0) pulled away.

Jackson Jett tossed in nine points for the Panthers, Bryson Dockery and Noah Perkins eight each. Gabriel McDonald and Michael Chodak had four and two points, respectively, for the champs.

Friday’s title washed clean for the Panthers the disappointment of a  runner-up finish a year ago.

“We left that game last year,” Porter coach Raymond Burnett said. “We didn’t mention it all year. This year, the big thing was they played together as a team. They genuinely liked each other.”

Plus, Luke said, “It’s awesome!”

Porter needed Burnett’s big night. Townsend’s got a kid with some serious Jedi skills as well.

Parker Rothery puts up a jumper for Townsend.

Parker Rothery finished with 14 to pace the Tigers, often displaying the same effortless feel for the game Burnett used to telling effect. Brayden Carnes had eight for the Tigers in the championship game, Colin Coatney five and Dalton Caines two.

The difference in the title game was swift attacks by the Panthers at the start of each half and a lot of Burnette in the middle.

“We played pretty good defense,” Raymond Burnett said. “That Townsend team scored 50 points last night.”

With Jett setting the tempo, Porter opened a 12-6 lead after a quarter. Burnett pumped in a couple of deep 3s in the second frame as the Panthers widened the gap to 18-11 at the half. Another trey from Burnett and five points underneath from Perkins opened a decisive lead for Porter, 31-18, to start the fourth.

Girls’ championship
Porter 32, Middlesettlements 3

The Lady Panthers started hot and never let the Lady Settlers back in it, bolting to an 8-0 lead after a quarter of play. It was 14-2 Porter at the half.

Zoe Payne looks for an opening.

Lady Panther Zoe Payne took the honors for the championship points, a pair of first-quarter buckets proving all Porter would need on the night.

Payne finished the evening with a game-high 12 points, scoring 10 of the Lady Panthers’ first 14 points. Katlyn Burger added six. Alexis Cody and Kaitlyn Wilkerson both tossed in four, Caycee Braden, Lauren Leehans and Gabby Grant two each.

Jazzlyn Atkins had all three points for Middlesettlements.













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