Varsity Panthers throttle Raiders

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Varsity Panthers throttle Raiders

A Panther player dribbles the ball. The boys have now won three games in a row, improving their record to 11-7.

A Panther player dribbles the ball. The boys have now won three games in a row, improving their record to 11-7.

Shelby Foster

A Panther player dribbles the ball. The boys have now won three games in a row, improving their record to 11-7.

Shelby Foster

Shelby Foster

A Panther player dribbles the ball. The boys have now won three games in a row, improving their record to 11-7.

Rilee Stapleton, Editor-in-Chief

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Varsity basketball at the Mill is trending upwards, as the girls continue to win and the boys are putting pieces into place. Both squads made statement wins this past Friday with the girls crushing the visiting Riverdale Raiders 63-13, and the boys cruising to a 56-35 victory.

For the girls, three sophomores, Alice Anne Hudson, Victoria Fuller, and Ashtyn Lally carried the Mill offensively. Hudson and Fuller each knocked down three three-pointers, while Lally converted all six of her free throws as well as connecting on two of her own shots from behind the arc. The Lady Panthers out-rebounded the Lady Raiders 29-13, while also forcing 15 turnovers.

Shelby Foster
A Panther player dribbles the ball down the court. The Lady Panthers have won back-to-back games and have now passed their win total from last season.

Riverdale only made five of their 30 shot attempts, and struggled on both ends of the court. The active Panther defense prevented any ball movement, resulting in the Lady Raiders finishing the game with just one assist compared to the Mill’s 15. They also only forced one steal, while the Lady Panthers pick-pocketed the visitors 13 times.

“It was a game I got to play everybody,” girls’ head coach Emily Sweeney said. “Everyone got minutes and we got to try out different groups.”

The girls’ game tipped off first, and the Lady Panthers immediately caught fire. Their full-court press forced three early turnovers that the Starr’s Mill offense turned into three quick three-pointers. The Panthers were up 9-0 before Riverdale was able to cross the half court line.

The Raiders weren’t able to score until the final few minutes of the first quarter, and found themselves down 26-6 after the first eight minutes. The second quarter would prove to be worse for Riverdale, as the turnovers piled up and their deficit grew. The Panthers outscored the Lady Raiders 14-2 in the quarter, and went into halftime up 40-8.

With a big lead after one half, the Lady Panthers slowed down and used more clock throughout the final two quarters. The Raiders still couldn’t hit any shots, finishing the game 2/13 from behind the three-point line. Despite slowing the offense down, Starr’s Mill kept the defensive pressure up and extended their lead. The second half was similar to the first, and the Lady Panthers emerged victorious with a 50-point blowout over Riverdale.

“It was a big win, so the girls’ spirits are high,” Sweeney said. “Especially after that loss [to Fayette County].”

On the boys’ side, the Panthers cruised to a victory without much opposition. Senior Drew Hudson scored 17 points for Starr’s Mill and sophomore Julian Lynch added another 11. The Panthers were 12 of 14 from the free throw line, an 85.7 percent clip.

Senior Cyrus Richards led the Raiders on offense, totaling 14 points on the night. The Raiders only managed to shoot six free throws, making half of them. Riverdale struggled on offense throughout the game, only scoring 14 points in the first half.

“The shooting was good,” Hutchins said. “We’re streaky, so if we start knocking down shots consistently we’re a scary team.”

The Panthers came out hot, getting easy baskets and knocking down shots throughout the quarter. Riverdale tried to pressure the Starr’s Mill offense, but the Panthers moved the ball and built a 15-5 lead after the first eight minutes.

Shelby Foster
A Panther forward shoots a jumpshot against Riverdale. The Panthers shot the ball well against the Raiders, including 85 percent from the free throw line.

The second quarter proved to be much closer, as both teams only scored nine points. The defensive pressure picked up for both teams, and easy baskets were much harder to come by. The scrappy back-and-forth quarter ended with Starr’s Mill leading 24-14 going into halftime.

“We need to work on turnovers,” Lynch said. “On offense we were a bit sluggish.”

The Panthers’ lead didn’t grow much in the third quarter, as both teams continued to struggle offensively. Riverdale kept up with the Mill but couldn’t gain any ground. The Panthers outscored the Raiders 12-10. With a 36-24 lead going into the final quarter, Starr’s Mill finally pulled away.

The Panthers offense picked up during the final eight minutes, and they scored easy baskets much like they did in the first quarter. The Raiders grew tired and couldn’t keep up with the Mill. After the final eight minutes ticked off of the clock, the Panthers celebrated their 56-35 victory.

“The past couple games we’ve been moving the ball really well and playing as a team,” Hudson said.

Both teams played Griffin on the road the following day. The boys lost both regular season games to the Bears a year ago, but took care of business this time around, beating Griffin 66-52. The boys have won three games in a row and now boast an 11-7 record. The Lady Panthers knocked off the defending region champs 51-40, and improved to 13-5 on the season.

McIntosh comes to the Panther Pit on Jan. 19 for a rematch with Starr’s Mill. The boys’ team fell 64-54 at McIntosh earlier in the year, but the Lady Panthers topped the Lady Chiefs 46-35. The girls play first at 7 p.m., and the boys follow at 8:30 p.m.