Hudson leads Panthers through opening round

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Hudson leads Panthers through opening round

A Panther guard dribbles down the floor during a fast break. The Panthers’ 15 steals contributed to easy fast break baskets.

A Panther guard dribbles down the floor during a fast break. The Panthers’ 15 steals contributed to easy fast break baskets.

Shelby Foster

A Panther guard dribbles down the floor during a fast break. The Panthers’ 15 steals contributed to easy fast break baskets.

Shelby Foster

Shelby Foster

A Panther guard dribbles down the floor during a fast break. The Panthers’ 15 steals contributed to easy fast break baskets.

Rilee Stapleton, Editor-in-Chief

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Last year, the No. 4 seeded Lady Panthers only needed one win in the region tournament to earn a spot in the state playoffs. However, the No. 5 seeded Morrow Mustangs cut the Panthers’ season short with an upset in the first round of the region tournament. This left the girls basketball team as the only sports program at the Mill to miss the state playoffs. This year, however, the Lady Panthers opened the tournament as the No. 2 seed and didn’t falter. Last night, they traveled to Riverdale High School and knocked off the Raiders 64-30 in a resounding win for Starr’s Mill.

The Lady Panthers torched Riverdale from behind the arc, connecting on 11 of their 25 attempts from three-point distance.”

— Editor-in-Chief Rilee Stapleton

“Our shots were falling, it’s always nice when the shots are falling,” head coach Emily Sweeney said. “The ball movement was good.”

Sophomore guard Alice Anne Hudson led a balanced Panther offense, scoring 16 points to go along with eight steals. Fellow sophomore guard Ashtyn Lally scored eight points to accompany five rebounds and five assists, while sophomore Victoria Fuller added another 13 points for the Mill. Junior Alyssa Angelo played well all around, notching eight points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals. The Lady Panthers torched Riverdale from behind the arc, connecting on 11 of their 25 attempts from three-point distance.

Riverdale struggled offensively throughout the entire game. Only having five players, they grew tired quickly and couldn’t keep up with Starr’s Mill. They gave up 15 steals, which ultimately kept them out of the game. The loss concluded the Raiders’ winless season, as they finished with an 0-25 record, including 0-12 in the region.

“I just kept reading where they were going to pass it and played very tight on their ball handlers,” Hudson said.

Starr’s Mill looked hungry from the tip-off. They found easy shots and scored from almost everywhere while pressuring the Raider offense and forcing multiple turnovers. The Panthers swung the ball on offense and destroyed the zone defense Riverdale was playing. By the end of one quarter, the Lady Panthers had already built a 16-6 lead.

The Panthers kept the tempo high in the second quarter, hitting outside shots on offense, then converting turnovers into points on defense. As the game progressed, Riverdale fell further behind. Despite scoring 12 points in the quarter, the Raiders trailed 35-18 at halftime.

“Moving the ball and driving to look for the open dish to a shooter helped a lot,” Angelo said. “They were letting us take outside shots and we hit them.”

The game slowed down drastically in the third quarter. The Panthers slowed down on offense, but continued their constant ball movement. Starr’s Mill scored more baskets from inside during the quarter and kept adding to their lead. By out-scoring Riverdale 11-8 in the quarter, the Panthers lead reached 20 points, 46-26.

Fuller finished off the Raiders in fourth quarter, scoring 10 of her 13 points in the final period. The fatigue in the Riverdale players began to show, and one Lady Raider eventually fouled out. Now down to only four players, Riverdale fell further behind. The Panthers scored 18 points in the final quarter while only giving up four points to the Raiders. The 64-30 win displayed the depth on the Mill’s roster, which can prove to be vital in the postseason.

“We need to play our game at our pace,” Angelo said. “Everyone needs to know their job.”

The Lady Panthers are onto the second round of the region tournament while the season comes to a close for the Lady Raiders. Starr’s Mill will take on Griffin next, a team who they have already beat twice this year. Griffin, the No. 3 seed, defeated the No. 6 seed Morrow Mustangs to advance in the tournament. The third matchup between the Mill and the Bears begins tonight at 7 p.m. at Riverdale High School.