GREENVILLE — The Ashe County Panthers battled illness and injuries on the way to capturing the bronze medal at the 2016 North Carolina Senior Games.
Games took place on the campus of East Carolina University on Sept. 16-17.
The Panthers featured a team of nine players: Ronnie Bare, Tom Fowler, Richard Hamby, Michael Kurtz, Garvey Pennington, Darrell Poe, Larry Sheets, Dan Weaver and Rick Zachery. The team competed in the 55-60 age category despite having just one player under the age of 60. Rules stipulate that if a team has one player under the age of 60, then they must compete at the next age group below them.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, the team got some bad news right out of the gate when Bare, one of the team regulars, could not make the trip due to an illness.
As play started on Friday, the Panthers got off to a slow start, losing their first three games. In the fourth game, a game that the Panthers would go on to win, Kurtz suffered a knee injury and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and was unable to play for the rest of the tournament.
Despite all of the adversity, that one win was good enough to qualify the team for the medal round to take place on Saturday. Playing without two players, the Panthers battled hard in the semifinal round, but fell short in the first game.
In the bronze medal game, the Panthers pulled out a big overtime win to take home the bronze for a second straight year.
The Panthers would like to dedicate their performance and their medal to the citizens of Ashe County for their great support.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.