Improved foul shooting propels Panthers to win

Free-throw shooting hasn’t been a strong suit for Palo Verde’s boys basketball team this season.

The Panthers entered Tuesday’s Northwest League game at Cimarron-Memorial shooting 62.2 percent (56-for-90) from the line. But those troubles might be well behind them.

Palo Verde sank 23 of 30 foul shots on the way to an 81-64 victory, including 15 of 21 in the first half.

“It played a huge role,” Panthers coach Jermone Riley said. “We’ve been shooting poorly the last couple games at the free-throw line. I like this because it shows we’re attacking the basket and not settling for jump shots.”

Palo Verde (6-2, 2-0) led by 24 points after opening the fourth quarter on a 23-7 run.

“It really helps if we’re consistent from the free-throw line,” Palo Verde center Andrew Topham said. “Those are easy points we’ve got to capitalize on.”

Topham had a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Moses Morgan added 22 points and six rebounds for the Panthers.

In a game that saw 53 fouls called, Cimarron (11-5, 1-2) struggled at the free-throw line, shooting 23-for-40.

“We were talking to them about that,” Cimarron coach Steve Boyack said. “They’ve got to go to the line and focus. We can’t miss 17 free throws and expect to win a ballgame.”

Kevin Olekaibe led the Spartans with 29 points, and Brandon Washington chipped in 17.

Cimarron pulled to within 43-41 midway through the third quarter.

“Our guys played with some heart and believed for three quarters,” Boyack said. “Something turned off on us and turned on for them. They wanted it more than our guys did, I guess.”

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at or 702-387-5203.

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