WATSEKA– After defeating them in the SVC tournament, the PBL Panthers' girls basketball team fell to the Watseka Lady Warriors on Thursday night during their SVC conference game in Watseka. The Warriors defeated the Panthers with a score of 39-30.
Two points from PBL's Schwarz started off the game to put the Panthers up 2-0 at the 7:37 mark. Watseka was able to get themselves on the board to tie the score at 2-2 with a basket from Allie Hoy. A layup from Kinzie Parsons with 5:30 left in the quarter gave Watseka the lead 4-2 but was answered with a layup from the Panthers' Bruns. The Panthers were then able to put up another two points to take the lead with about 4:46 left in the first quarter 6-4. Watseka's Natalie Schroeder was then fouled and sent to the line to make one of two free-throw attempts to put them just one point behind the Panthers. Two layups from Parsons and Kennedy McTaggart, respectively allowed for Watseka to then take a three-point lead 9-6 to end the first quarter of play.
In the second, Watseka's Schroeder opened up the quarter with a successful three-point shot to extend their lead 12-6. The Warriors' Teagan Cawthon was fouled and made one of two of her extra shots to put the score at 13-6. With 6:08 on the clock, Watseka's Schroeder fouled PBL's Brooke Walder allowing her to pick up an extra point. PBL was forced to call a time out with just under five minutes left in the first half. The Panthers' Bruns made her way down to put up two points about a minute later but was answered with a layup from Cawthon making the score 15-9. Watseka was then able to maintain their lead and put up another nine points to PBL's two ending the half with a score of 24-11.
Parsons was able to score to start off quarter three extending the Warriors' lead to 15 points 26-11 but that was soon answered with two-points from the Panthers' Kirra Lantz. With just under the seven-minute mark, McTaggart grabbed another two points to put the score at 28-13. After PBL's Bruns put up a successful two-points, Walder drew a foul to be sent to the line and sink both free throw attempts to put the Panthers' defect at 11 points, 28-17. The Panthers were able to grab another four points to Watseka's two to close out the quarter 30-21.
To start off the final quarter of play, Bruns put up another successful two-points with a layup. She was then fouled with 6:48 on the clock to make one of two free throws and reduce Watseka's lead to just six points, 30-24. Watseka's Hoys scored ten seconds later with a layup of her own and was later able to draw a foul from Bruns for her third foul of the game. Watseka finished off the game grabbing another nine points while holding off the Panthers to six points and grabbing the SVC win 39-30.
Bruns led the Panthers at the rim during the game, putting up a total of 17 points. Brooke Walder followed with seven points of her own while Schwarz, Lantz and Makenna Ecker each contributed two points apiece.
"This loss really comes down to a slow start," said the Panthers' head coach Nathan Lawler.
"They did a nice job of staying in man to man and switching up their defensive game plan. We didn't hit shots and let that affect our defensive energy and that was kind of the key. In the second half, we won both quarters, but we can't wait to turn it on especially when you're playing a 19-21 team."
Lawler also said he and his team intend to bounce back from this loss and play the best basketball they can as the season winds down.
"The beautiful thing is when we walk out of here tonight we learn from it and now it's time to prepare for a regional championship," he said.
"Tonight we learned some hard lessons and we have to learn to reflect and make sure our seniors are setting the right example and our younger kids have to buy into that. So, when they're finally ready to follow the kids who are trying to lead we are going to be in a good spot."
The team will now look to host GCMS on Monday night, and Lawler intends to use the upcoming match up to get his team back on track and recover after the heartbreaking loss.
"I think the big thing is to just get back to being us. We just weren't quite ready yet and now we have to use this to ignite the fire within us and get back to our goal which is to play our best basketball in February."
The PBL Panthers' girl's basketball team is now 18-8 on the season.