Panthers to take on struggling Western team


Justin Brown

Junior guard Montell Goodwin dribbles down court during the Panthers’ 87-83 overtime loss to Bradley Nov. 29.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor


Each year, the Panthers and Leathernecks play for the “Old Railsplitter” trophy after playing in a home-and-home series.

The Panthers hosted Western Nov. 19 and came away with a 73-64 win.

Only one of the games between the two teams counts as the game to play for the Old Railsplitter trophy.

The Old Railsplitter is a heavy ax on a large plaque that weighs over 30 lbs., meant to tie the two Land of Lincoln schools to Abe Lincoln and his nickname of the ‘Railsplitter.’

Western will host Eastern Saturday as the two teams will play for the trophy before heading separate ways to play in their conferences in just a few days.

Eastern has shown signs of a great team and have also struggled at times, and Wednesday night, Eastern just happened to run into a good shooter and it knocked them down.

There are times when an alley-oop lob from junior Montell Goodwin to junior Muusa Dama for the dunk or a behind the back pass save on the baseline from junior Ray Crossland to sophomore Patrick Muldoon for the layup look easy, but there are times when the Panthers end up firing up shots too early in the shot clock that lead to the opposing team taking off the other way.

The team chemistry is definitely there as junior Cornell Johnston and sophomore Casey Teson have both said.

After a big win over Illinois-Chicago and the tough loss against Northern Kentucky, a game against Western, a team Eastern has already beat will be a good chance to get the chemistry back.

Western is 2-6 on the year and has lost its last three games to Chicago State, American University and Miami of Ohio.

Despite the struggles Western has had, it still has a couple of players that could make an impact in the game against Eastern.

Garret Covington has averaged 23.2 points per game this year, but turning the ball over is something that Covington does quite often, which falls into something the Panthers are good at: forcing turnovers.

Covington scored 22 points the last time against the Panthers and also had six turnovers.

Eastern scored 33 points off of Western’s 21 turnovers in the game.

Eastern won the battle down low as well scoring 28 points in the paint but were outrebounded 34-32.

Eastern used two consistent halves to pull away in the first matchup of the season, scoring 35 points in the first half and 38 in the second.

Senior Demetrius McReynolds, Goodwin, Johnston, Dama and Ray Crossland all scored in double figures Nov. 19 against the Leathernecks.

Slowly but surely, Eastern is finding a groove with its new members on the team, and as long as it comes together by New Year’s Eve’s OVC opener, Eastern should be fine.

Coach Jay Spoonhour has stressed the importance of playing a “sound” game and not just settling for the turnover and a layup at the other end.

Johnston has mentioned times of Eastern trying to do too much too quick and not letting the play come to them.

Eastern and Western will tip off at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]