For the Call
This past season has been a rough one for the Mehlville Senior High School boys’ basketball team as the Panthers struggled to an overall record of 4-21 with a 1-6 mark in the Suburban West Conference.
The Panthers’ season came to a quick end last week in the first round of the district playoffs as they suffered a 43-59 loss to Seckman.
“We got into a little trouble scoring-wise,” Mehlville Head Coach Bill Smith told the Call. “When you average 40 points a game and you’re down 11 going into the fourth quarter, it’s really tough to win.”
The Panthers fell behind 15-9 after the first quarter, but stormed back in the second quarter to bring the score to 25-24 at the half. Mehlville failed to take advantage of its recent surge as the Panthers fell behind 45-36 going into the fourth quarter.
Leading Mehlville in scoring was junior guard Jonathan Beckum, who racked up 16 points and three rebounds with one assist. Of those 16 points, 12 were scored in the first half. For the 2002-2003 campaign, Beckum averaged 8.6 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
“Jonathan played well,” Smith said. “Defensively they paid a little more attention to him in the second half and shut him down a bit.”
Rodney Heard also scored in double figures for the Panthers as he scored 13 points, while pulling down eight rebounds.
The sophomore guard also was a Se-cond-Team All-Conference selection and had five steals and five assists against Seck-man.
“Rodney has gotten better and better as the year went on,” Smith said. “He’s developed into a really nice point guard and is one of those kids that gives 100 percent every day.”
Mehlville graduates just two seniors this season in guard Marcus Cotton and forward Bryan Bengston. In fact, Bengston, like Heard, also received postseason honors as he was an All-Conference Honor-able-Mention selection.
Cotton averaged 1.6 points a game, while pulling down 2.3 rebounds a match.
He was third on the team in assists (21) and steals (23) while fourth in defensive boards (43).
“Marcus did a nice job in what he was capable of doing for us,” Smith said. “He really held things together at times for us.”
Bengston led the Panthers in rebounding with 7.7 rebounds a game and was second on the team in scoring with nine points a game. He also led Mehlville in blocked shots (10) and was fourth in steals with 21 thefts.
“Bryan had some really good games during the middle of the season,” Smith said. “I don’t think that he played quite as well as he wanted to. But overall he had a pretty nice year.”