Whitmer senior guard Ryne Smith played exactly like a Big Ten prospect last night, drilling seven 3-pointers en route to a 34-point performance.
Smith, who also was 11-of-11 from the free throw line, led the Panthers to a 67-53 victory over visiting St. Francis de Sales. Whitmer won its season and City League opener, while the Knights dropped to 0-2 overall and 0-1 in league play.
"I just play as hard as I can every play," said Smith, who has earned a scholarship to Purdue. "They're going to be dogging me all over the place so I just have to keep my composure. I had to make my first couple to start that up."
With his team down 31-27 at the half, Smith knocked down a 3-pointer just five seconds into the third quarter. He then hit four straight free throws as the Panthers grabbed a one-point lead. Smith then canned back-to-back 3-pointers to give his team an insurmountable 45-37 lead with 1:25 left in the third quarter.
Whitmer coach Bruce Smith said although his son made three 3-pointers in the first half and had 13 points at half, he was not pleased.
"He took some ill-advised ones early," Smith said. "I don't even know if they were in Lucas County or not. I got on them at the half. And he was a lot more patient in the second half and took good 3s instead of long 3s and they went in. I don't think he missed one in the second half."
Indeed Smith was fouled on the only 3-pointer he missed in the second half and made all three foul shots.
"Let's face it, the kid has a scholarship to a Division I school for a reason," St. Francis coach Nick Lowe said. "We know he can shoot it. We did a nice job making him earn his points. But he stepped up like a Division I player tonight."
St. Francis ended the first quarter with an 8-2 run to take a 20-13 lead. Whitmer regained the edge when Smith hit consecutive 3-pointers midway through the second as part of a 12-4 spurt. But the Knights led at the half after a 7-2 run.
Whitmer opened the third quarter with an 11-6 charge. Senior forward Antwan Willis scored two of his 11 points inside to give the Panthers a 38-37 lead with three minutes left and they never trailed again.
"We were down four to start the third quarter but we got off to a quick start," coach Smith said. "They started to chase Ryan a little bit on the perimeter and that opened up some things inside."
The Panthers finished with a slight edge in rebounding (25-23) led by senior forward Kevin Koger's six boards. But St. Francis senior Fahro Alihodzic, an exchange student from England, finished with 11 rebounds, including five offensively. Alihodzic also had 11 points. Kevin Henry paced the Knights with 14 points. Jordan Frost had 11.
Smith, who is 6-foot-3, sparked an 11-5 run to end the third quarter.
"He is physically stronger which you expect when a kid goes from 17 to 18," coach Smith said. "His teammates are doing a great job getting him open. We had some great screens in the second half. He shot the ball well and hopefully he can do it some more."
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