Underclassmen steal spotlight in aggressive region game

A+Lady+Panther+dribbles+down+the+court+while+protecting+the+ball+from+a+visiting+Bear.+It+may+have+been+senior+night%2C+but+the+underclassmen+led+the+Panthers+to+their+final+victory+of+the+regular+season.+

Lilly Carter

A Lady Panther dribbles down the court while protecting the ball from a visiting Bear. It may have been senior night, but the underclassmen led the Panthers to their final victory of the regular season.

Dana Gould, A&E co-Editor

On senior night, the Lady Panthers played strong defense in a 50-41 win over visiting Griffin.  For two seniors, the game was the last regular season game they will play, but for the entire team, the victory marks what will hopefully be a strong state run.

“We need to work on making sure we understand our individual roles, knowing we play better as a team and not as individuals,” head coach Emily Sweeney said.  

“[W]e play better as a team and not as individuals.””

— head coach Emily Sweeney

Junior Alyssa Angelo led the team with 14 points, shooting two of three from behind the arc. Freshman Ali Rumpel contributed nine points and accounted for much of the team’s defense, including seven rebounds. Senior Emily Nieuwstraten added two three-pointers and four rebounds, with sophomore Alice Anne Hudson scoring 11 points.

Senior Yesenia Chheoung and sophomore Averyana Nelson led Griffin with 8 points each, with Chheoung scoring six of her points from behind the three-point line. The Bears scored many of their points by constantly pressuring the Panthers’ offense and scoring off of turnovers.

“I think we need to work on our attitudes and not letting the refs affect us, so we [just] keep playing,” Rumpel said. “We could [also] do a better job slowing down on offense.”

The first quarter opened with quick passing and a fierce defense from the Lady Panthers as they continuously stole the ball from the opposing team. At this point in the game, both teams were just getting warmed up, which resulted in a slower pace and much less aggression. The quarter proved to be a close one as the score ended 13-10 in favor of the Lady Panthers.

After a relatively calm first quarter, both teams picked up the pace considerably. Both teams grabbed rebounds left and right. However, there were many sloppy mistakes on each side of the court causing the game to reach a stalemate. The Panthers offense sped up, preventing the team from making their shots and the Bears were simply having problems making theirs.

“It was a good game [to prepare for regions], so upbeat, hard, and high pressure,” Angelo said. “That’s what we are going to see [at regions], especially [in the] second and third round.”

Lilly Carter
Head coach Emily Sweeney argues a call with one of the game’s referees. There were many questionable calls made throughout the game, especially in the third quarter when the two teams combined for 13 fouls.

The second half began with a few more sloppy mistakes from the Lady Panthers, allowing Griffin to maintain their lead. After a few minutes of a slower, more manageable pace, the speed amped up yet again. This time as both teams moved faster the game became much more aggressive. By the end of this quarter alone, Starr’s Mill had six fouls and Griffin had seven. The Panthers led 36-33 going into the final quarter of play.

The fourth quarter picked up just where the third ended, as the speed stayed consistent and Griffin received a foul almost immediately. The Panther lead steadily grew. The aggressive second half ended with a total of ten fouls for Griffin and nine fouls for Starr’s Mill. The final score favored of Panthers 50-41.

“ [I] just let them know that they’re good enough,” Sweeney said. “That if they choose to set their mind to it they can do it.”

The Lady Panthers finished the regular season 18-6 overall, and 10-2 in the region. Both of their region losses came against Fayette County, who will be the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Starr’s Mill is slotted as the No. 2 seed, but the Panthers are hungry for a rematch with the Tigers in the region championship game. The region tournament is Feb. 6-9 at Riverdale High School.