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Florida Tech Outlasts Thomas in Winter Classic

Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

The Florida Tech Panthers and Thomas Night Hawks played a great game Saturday to cap off the Florida Georgia Winter Classic. The Panthers had four scorers in double figures, leading to a 92-85 victory.

A three-pointer from Derek Murphy with 2:05 to go took the lead from five to eight, and that was really the dagger for the Panthers, who went 2-0 over the weekend. They beat Toccoa Falls 86-53 on Friday.

Murphy had a double-double in this one, going for 35 points and 11 rebounds. Trey Schaneville had a career-high 26 points, going 7-for-12 from the field, and 5-for-10 from long range. This performance comes on the heels of Monday’s game at Barry when Schaneville had 17 points. That was his career-high until Saturday.

“You can’t ask for more than we got out of Derek Murphy and Trey Schaneville,” said Panthers coach Billy Mims after the game. “I thought those two guys in the second half of the game, just carried us on their shoulders and willed us to victory. They were not gonna let us lose.”

Runako Ziegler had 11 points and seven rebounds, and Antonis Pefanis chipped in 10, rounding out the Panthers double-digit scoring. Thomas had two players in double-figures, led by Joshua Scott, who had a game-high 46.

“Joshua Scott just had an incredible individual performance,” said Mims. “Monster numbers for the young man and I told him when I went down and shook his hand, I said that was one of the most outstanding individual performances I’ve seen in my 38 years of coaching.”

Early on the game went back-and-forth, with Thomas going up by five, with 14:43 left in the first half. Pefanis drilled a three and after Thomas went up 21-16, Schaneville drained a three and after a Night Hawks hoop, Pefanis hit another triple. Mekhii Noble gave the Panthers a 24-23 lead after his basket, and another three by Schaneville followed, making it 27-23 with 6:37 left in the half.

When all was said and done, the Panthers put together a 13-2 run.

The Night Hawks (5-9) kept pace with the Panthers with the rest of the half, making a run in the latter stages, tying the game at 38 at halftime.

The second half started with Murphy getting fouled on a made shot and hitting the free-throw. That was followed by a Schaneville three, giving the Panthers a 44-38 lead.

Jalen Hodges dunk a few minutes later would put the Panthers up 57-53. Things see-sawed from there for a bit. with the game knotted at 59, the Panthers scored seven straight points, only to see Thomas get back within two, 68-66. The Panthers kept pushing until that three by Murphy put them up by eight.

Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown

A three by Schaneville made it an 11-point spread and Murphy threw down an emphatic dunk on the Panthers’ next possession, giving his squad an 82-71 lead. The dunk was complete with a slap of the backboard which drew a technical, but the exclamation point was worth it.

“He got the tech and it was the right call, so I wasn’t gonna argue that,” said Mims. “I thought there were a lot of little moments down the stretch in the second half, that we had players step up and make big plays.”

For more info: Florida Tech @ Thomas Box Score

The Panthers will now have eight days off for Christmas, before getting three days of practice leading up to a Sunshine State Conference battle with Florida Southern on Thursday, January 2.

“They had a good team last year and won the Sunshine State Conference Tournament at Nova,” Mims said of Southern. “It always seems to be a fun game, a great game, and an exciting matchup. They’ve got a lot of talent and are very well-coached.”

The game will tip-off around 7:30 p.m., following the women’s game, which begins at 5:30.