Class D Far Western Regional Preview: Section V champion Avoca-Prattsburgh (22-2) vs. Section VI champion Panama (16-6), Saturday, March 11, 5:30 p.m. at Rush-Henrietta
By BILL COLLMER
HENRIETTA — The Panama Panthers lost their leading scorer to an injury, but that didn’t stop the young squad from shocking Section VI, winning sectionals and moving up to #9 in the state rankings.
In fact, you may hear a lot about this team in coming years.
They are young, fearless and exciting to watch as they play great defense. Their next opponent is the #1 team in the state, Avoca/Prattsburgh.
Last season, Avoca/Prattsburgh finished the season 27-0 and captured the New York State championship completing a dream season.
Coming into this season they returned three starters from that team and the first two players off the bench, so there were some expectations to get back to Glens Falls.
In a preseason interview, A/P Coach Brian Putnam said, “I am sure we will see everybody’s best game; There’s definitely a target on our backs. I expect the kids to come out, play hard, defend and get up and down the floor. I think it’s too early to saddle these guys with too many expectations. They need to establish their own Identity, and not worry about the success we were fortunate to have last year.”
This year’s squad captured their third straight sectional championship and defeated a scrappy Mt. Morris team in the State Qualifier and are playing for a chance to return to Glens Falls.
A/P starts a lineup with four seniors and a junior who has been on varsity since eighth grade. Last year as a sophomore, Macoy Putnam was named MVP of the State Final four. This year he was named MVP of the Section V Class D1 Tournament. Senior Sawyer Devoe was named Steuben County League MVP. He and Senior Haden Abbott will represent Steuben County in the Ronald McDonald All-Star game at the end of March.
Senior guards Evan Campbell and Jamel Crowder are also veteran leaders who made the Section V all-tournament team.
The Panama Panthers are located just west of Jamestown in Cattaraugus County and are completely opposite of the A/P Titans.
They’ve been flying under the radar all season and weren’t supposed to be here for another year or two. Panama has an 11-man roster with one senior, one junior, eight sophomores and a freshman.
Their starting lineup consists of four sophomores and a senior.
Panama entered sectionals as the #4 seed with a record of 13-6. They knocked off defending champion Westfield in the quarterfinals, 63-38. During the regular season, Panama and Westfield split games with Panama winning 62-61 at home and losing 62-40 on the road.
Panama then knocked off #1 seed, Ellicottville 47-36 in the semifinals before defeating the #2 seed Clymer in the Section VI Championship game, 41-37.
What makes this unprecedented run to the sectional championship even more impressive, they did it without their leading scorer, sophomore Carter Brink who leads the team with 19.0 points per game. Brink slipped on ice in the parking lot and broke his collarbone a month ago and is out for the rest of the season.
Sophomore Alex Barmore scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the championship game and was named Class D tournament MVP.
Sophomore Bryce Hinsdale was named to the All-Tournament team after scoring 11 points and dishing out seven assists in the title game.
Panama is no stranger to success. They defeated Belfast 56-51 in 2019 in the Far Western Regional advancing to the State Final Four before losing in overtime in the State Semifinals. That Panama team was Led by Cameron Barmore, Alex’s older brother.
This is their fourth regional appearance since 2012.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Panama: 6’2″ Sophomore Alex Barmore 8.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 5’10” Sophomore Guard Bryce Hinsdale 13.2 PPG, 4.6 APG, 6’1″ Sophomore Forward Tate Catanese 6.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 5’10” Senior Gabe Roth 9.5 PPG
Avoca-Prattsburgh: 5’11” Senior Sawyer Devoe 18.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 6’0″ Senior Haden Abbott 21.2 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6’0″ Junior Macoy Putnam 14.3 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.6 SPG, 5’9″ Senior Evan Campbell 12.5 PPG
Avoca-Prattsburgh averages 83.3 points per game while Panama averages 57.0 PPG.