PRINCETON — When Makenzey Wilson’s last second layup in the first half rimmed in and out all she could do was smile as she walked off the court.
It was just one of those halves for Princeton, missing shots they normally convert and finding themselves in a 21-point deficit.
After the miss, Putnam County’s Daniela Pavlovich greeted Wilson at halfcourt and exchanged a handshake. Pavlovich understood. Normally a double figure scorer, she only tallied six points in a loss to Stark County the previous night.
On Saturday, Pavlovich regained her shooting touch and made 11 of 16 shots, including three three-pointers, for a game-high 26 points, as she led the Lady Panthers past the Tigresses 57-37 in the third-place game of the Princeton Holiday Tournament at Prouty Gym.
Pavlovich had 16 points in the first half, missing only one shot. Teammate Carly Gonet added three treys and 11 points in the decisive first half of play. Princeton played a much better second half and outscored the Lady Panthers in the final 16 minutes, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
“We outscored them 24-23 in the second half and we got down within 11 points at one time. I go away from this as a positive, the way we fought back,” said Princeton coach Kevin Hieronymus. “On Tuesday night we couldn’t respond in the second half against Erie. I’d say tonight we did. The girls dug down tonight and really responded.”
“We stepped it up and started running our offense,” said Wilson about her team’s better play in the second half. “We calmed down and slowed it down in our heads. We did what we were supposed to do.”
Emmalee Sears sparked a third-quarter rally by showing off some of the post moves. She scored all eight of her points in the third and made consecutive hoops to begin an eight-point run that closed out the quarter.
Two Wilson free throws at the start of the fourth quarter cut the PC lead to 11, but Pavlovich stopped the momentum with a dagger three-pointer on the right wing. She added one more three later in the fourth to not leave any doubt.
“She can shoot the lights out and she’s quick off the dribble,” said Hieronymus of Pavlovich.”You name it, that girl has got it. That was a killer three.”
Pavlovich was a big reason PC got off to a good start. She scored 10 points in the first quarter, including an “and one” with 24 seconds left in the period to cap a 15-2 run.
The Tigresses managed just four field goals in the first half. Although 10 of their 18 first-half rebounds were on the offensive end, they couldn’t convert the putbacks.
Sears and Abby Jaques led Princeton in scoring with eight points each. Wilson had a game-high 14 rebounds with 10 being offensive.