Date: 2021-12-24 23:17:15
The Huntsville Panthers pose after winning the Northwest Florida Shootout (Courtesy: Christian Schweers).
The Huntsville Panthers have returned from the Sunshine State as champions of the Northwest Florida Shootout.
The Panthers defeated Louisiana’s University Lab 64-46 in the tournament final on Thursday night. Huntsville’s Caleb Harrison was named to the All-Tournament team after he led the team with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. Massiah Morris was named MVP after putting up 6 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in the championship.
The Panthers reached the finals by defeating Crestview, 68-62, in the first round and Marshall Co. (KY), 57-52 in the second.
Head coach Christian Schweers said while the tournament championship won’t impact where his team stands at the end of the season, it gives them confidence.
“It still means something when you win a championship because you have to beat good teams at each round to do that and you have to play well in consecutive days,” Schweers said.
With a young group, Schweers said his focus is on making improvements every day, something he feels the Panthers did in Florida.
Schweers believes this tournament win came at just the right time, especially after a November schedule that he called a “gauntlet.”
“Sometimes a young team in a tough schedule, it can bury you and we didn’t let that happen. So we’ve been playing well here lately, we’ve won six of our last seven.”
But the team won’t have much time off before their next challenge — the Huntsville City Classic starts on Monday. The 39th annual tournament features area teams like Lee, Sparkman, James Clemens and several others.
“There’s a lot of really good teams in the Classic this year. There’s nowhere to hide and so each game you’ll get tested,” Schweer said. “We talk about, all the time, how we don’t want to run from competition because it’s gonna make us better. We want to get exposed while we can before we get into the games that actually matter here in January and February. Basketball is a playoff sport and you kind of want to be peaking at the right time so I think we’re trending in the right direction.”
The Huntsville City Classic tips off at Huntsville High School on Dec. 27 and runs through Dec. 29.