Game in, game out - almost without fail - the Vandalia boys basketball team could be counted on to rebound and play solid defense during the 2008-09 regular season.
The Vandals' M.O. helped them establish a reputation as a blue-collar team, and they reaped the benefits of their hard-working ways to the tune of 15 victories and a second-place finish in the SCC-East.
But Vandalia suffered an identity crisis Tuesday night. And, unfortunately, they did so in the first round of postseason play.
The host team at the Pana Class 2A Regional took full advantage, as the Panthers rolled to a 64-44 win.
"We picked a bad night for us not to be us," Vandals coach Kevin Jackson said. "You can't have an off game this time of year, and we did."
The Vandals (15-12) weren't quite themselves from the get-go, but they still only trailed by five points, 29-24, at the half.
But the warning signs began to surface late in the half during a 10-2 Pana run, and the wheels completely fell off in the third quarter, as the Panthers blew the game open by outscoring the Vandals 18-6.
Pana scored nine second-chance points on offensive putbacks during the fateful frame. The Panthers also did a ton of damage in transition, successfully dictating a fast-paced tempo the rest of the way.
Pana found itself up by 17 points by the end of the third quarter, and it quickly extended to its biggest lead, 51-30, with seven minutes remaining by capping a 22-6 run with another putback following the Vandals' seventh turnover of the half.
Pana wound up out-rebounding Vandalia 16-7 in the second half, including six offensive rebounds.
"Two things (hurt us)," Jackson said. "Our defensive front wasn't real solid and we didn't rebound the ball well tonight."
Beyers was especially effective on the offensive glass, scoring eight of his 18 points on putbacks. Beyers also had three steals and a circus trifecta in the third quarter - giving every indication it was simply going to be Pana's night.
Frank Schmitz also had a big game, pumping in a game-high 22 points.
The Vandals' ability to contain Schmitz helped it knock off the Panthers' in the team's previous two meetings.
But Schmitz looked more like the dominating player who scored 28 against the Vandals in the two teams' first meeting of the year, a 60-46 Pana win in the Vandalia Holiday Tournament.
Unfortunately, it was just one of many similarities between Vandalia and Pana's first meeting of the year, as the Panthers evened the season series at 2-2, advancing to Friday's championship game against Greenville.
The Vandals said goodbye to four seniors, Drew Bell, Austin Wollerman, Andy Koonce and Quinn Phillips. Bell scored 13 points in his final high school game, while Wollerman had 10.