CARTHAGE, Texas – After all the adversity the Blinn Buccaneers have faced this season, it was fitting that their first Region XIV Conference victory of the season didn't come easily.
Blinn defeated Panola 56-54 on a put-back bucket from Kendall Deveaux with 1.2 seconds remaining, giving the Buccaneers their first conference victory under coach Scott Schumacher. While the victory was Blinn's first in seven league games this season, it evened the team's record on the year to 9-9.
"I am so ecstatic for my guys," Schumacher said. "They have had opportunities this entire year to fold up and quit competing and they have yet to do that. I know our record right now is not all we thought it would be, but I'm so happy our guys were able to see all their work and effort pay off."
Although Panola entered the game with an identical 0-6 record in conference, it didn't look like the Buccaneers' night early as the Ponies jumped out to a 22-6 advantage. But when the Buccaneers abandoned their zone in favor of a tight man defense, the game turned in Blinn's favor.
"I just thought we did a terrific job of keeping the pressure on them and not giving them open looks," Schumacher said.
The Buccaneers trailed 28-21 at halftime, but Panola would make just six field goals in the second half.
With a minute to go in the game and Panola leading 54-51, the Buccaneers called timeout and drew up a play to set up a 3-pointer by sophomore guard T.J. Berry. Berry's bucket was the Bucs' only 3-pointer of the night, as Blinn finished just 1-of-13 from beyond the arc.
On Panola's ensuing possession, Deveaux blocked the shot, then grabbed the loose ball. Blinn ran the clock down to 10 seconds before guard Donald Moore drove to the basket. Moore's shot missed, but Deveaux was there again, this time grabbing the offensive rebound and scoring off the glass for the game's final play.
"Kendall is a very active player and he plays very hard," Schumacher said. "That's why his ceiling is so high, because he plays so hard, his motor runs and he's 6-8 and 240 pounds."
Freshman forward Rashaun Stimage led the Bucs with a game-high 20 points.
"Rashaun was lights out," Schumacher said. "He played really well in the first half. He was our go-to guy on the block the whole game."
Berry finished with 13 points while Moore added 10. Blinn shot 45 percent from the field while holding Panola to just 30 percent.
Marquis Yates led Panola with 19 points while Ben Merritt scored 12 and JaRon Denmark added 11. Panola fell to 7-10 on the season and 0-7 in conference.
The Bucs host Angelina College at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Blinn P.E. Building.