VARNA – The Putnam County Lady Panthers captured their first regional championship since 1984, defeating the Midland Timberwolves on their homecourt Thursday 40-32.
Coach James Barnett said it was a very good team win with the Lady Panthers battling foul trouble and facing a Midland team for the third time this year.
“These types of games are never easy; you got to come out hard especially when you see a team like Midland for the third time this year. The girls battled through some poor shooting and some foul trouble, but we rebounded well; we played defense pretty well; and at the end of the night, we were on top,” he said.
The Lady Panthers will play the winner of the Hinkley-Big Rock vs. Indian Creek regional game at 6 p.m. Monday in the semifinals of the Oglesby Sectional hosted by IVCC. The Hinckley Regional final was postponed from Thursday to Saturday due to the weather.
The Lady Panthers got in foul trouble early on in the first quarter with several starters earning two fouls each. This, combined with poor shooting, kept the Midland Lady Timberwolves in the game throughout. At the end of the first quarter, PCHS was up 17-11, but the Timberwolves kept shooting and adding terrific rebounding to keep the score tight throughout the second quarter.
With starters Daniela Pavlovich and Steph Wilson riding the bench most of the second quarter, the Lady Panthers looked for other teammates a chance to keep the team in the game. Taylor Pettit, Ashley Zupec and Megan Rehn, among others, kept the defense strong with adding some offensive points as well. At halftime, the game was at a four-point difference with the Lady Panthers on top 24-20.
“I think we came out a little nervous cause it’s a regional championship game. We haven’t really played a game like that with a title behind it, but we capped it off and pulled it through. There were a couple of errors, but we took care of it,” co-captain Daniela Pavlovich said.
Wilson and Venessa Voss picked up their fourth fouls in the third quarter which benched them again. However the Lady Panthers found their shooting stride and opened up the game at the end of the third quarter 33-24.
Wilson shared her frustration at watching a lot of the championship game from the bench.
“Considering I sat most of the third quarter and not playing as much as I am used to, I knew that I had to come out and help the team. Really just sitting there made me want to play even more, so when I went in, I wanted to do my best and not get into anymore foul trouble than I was already in,” she said.
In the fourth quarter the Lady Timberwolves kept battling back and were within three points of the Lady Panthers 36-33 with 2:32 left in the quarter. Then co-captain Carly Gonet hit a three-point shot which seemed to energize the team and crowd. Wilson made two free throws after being fouled at :40.5 seconds left in the game. Gonet then got the ball with :24 seconds left and getting fouled, sunk both shots to finish the game with a score of 40-32 in the Lady Panther’s favor.
Leading scorer for the Lady Panthers was Wilson with 13 points; Gonet followed with 11 points. For Midland, Kingen had 13 points.
Those advancing in the three-point showdown were Sydney Walker and Jessica Schneider of Flanagan; Sydney Foster of Midland; and Daniela Pavlovich of Putnam County.
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