MONTICELLO -- Mackenzie Bruns reached rare territory.
The Paxton-Buckley-Loda senior made two free throws during Thursday's Monticello Holiday Hoopla game against Neoga to give PBL a 2-0 lead with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
With the two shots from the charity stripe, Bruns reached the 1,000-point mark for her career, becoming just the second PBL girls basketball player to reach that milestone since the consolidation of the Paxton and Buckley-Loda schools in 1990.
"It feels pretty good. It really does," Bruns said.
As of Thursday, Dec. 26, Bruns had 1,027 career points as her 29 points on Thursday helped the Panthers (9-4) win 62-57 in their Hoopla debut.
"Both teams played really well," Bruns said. "We kind of struggled a little at the end, but we fought back and got it done. We've just got to keep working and playing our game."
A free throw by Bruns with 7:44 left in the game extended PBL's lead to 51-39 before Neoga (6-8) managed to cut its lead to 59-57. The Indians had the ball, but Bruns intercepted an off-balance pass attempt by Kylee Phillips and raced to the other basket before scoring while being fouled with 15.7 seconds remaining.
She made her ensuing free-throw attempt to complete the three-point play.
"Mackenzie did a great job. She's making plays. She's a great kid, one of the top two or three kids who ever walked through our program," PBL head coach Nathan Lawler said. "We appreciate her effort and her trying to make her teammates better."
Another three-point play by Bruns erased a 9-8 deficit for the Panthers with 1:06 left in the first quarter before a basket by Avery Fearday tied the game as the opening quarter came to an end.
A 3-pointer by Hannah Schwarz gave the Panthers a 14-11 lead early in the second quarter before Baylee Cosgrove scored two points off a steal. Two more steals led to a two-point basket and a free throw by Bruns that extended PBL's lead to 19-11 with 6:04 left in the second quarter.
"Our kids always play hard. It's just getting down to if we're executing the way we should. We were in our press, and Mackenzie made a big play and it sealed the win," Lawler said. "It was scary down the stretch. It was a big play by a big-time kid."
A three-point play by Makenna Ecker extended PBL's lead to its biggest margin of the second quarter at 25-15 as the Panthers went into halftime leading 28-21.
The Panthers' biggest lead of the game was 46-32 as PBL went into the fourth quarter leading 50-39. The Panthers led 57-46 before Kelsey Partlow made a 3-pointer, Trista Moore tallied a free throw with 2:19 left in the game and Olivia Titus scored on a driving layup during the Indians' ensuing 6-0 run.
"I was a little disappointed with our execution, but that's part of playing in a holiday tournament -- taking a few days off and having holidays," Lawler said. "We just need to do a little better job in the halfcourt."
Along with Bruns, Cosgrove also scored in double figures for PBL with 13 points. Ecker had seven points, Schwarz had five points, Emily Adwell had three points, Losa Suaava and Brooke Walder each had two points and Lorena Arnett had one point.
Monticello 64, GCMS 24. The Sages scored 12 straight points to start the game before Kadyn Barnes and Abby Spiller each had a basket. Monticello ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run before outscoring the Falcons 17-1 in the second quarter as Rylee Tompkins scored GCMS's lone points with 5:24 left in the quarter.
Hannah Hathaway made two 3-pointers in the third quarter for GCMS while Emily Clinton made two free throws and Spiller and Brown each had a basket.
Spiller had a 3-pointer and a two-point basket and Clinton had two free throws in the fourth quarter during a 7-0 run that cut GCMS's deficit to 56-24.
Abby Spiller led GCMS in scoring with nine points.
Hannah Hathaway added six points while Emily Clinton had four points, Kadyn Barnes and Ryleigh Brown each had two points and Skyler Funk had one point.
Tuscola 51, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 17. While achieving their fifth consecutive victory, the Warriors held the Falcons to just one first-quarter point in the event opener for both sides. Sophie Kremitzki’s 12 points paced Tuscola to go with Ella Boyer’s 10 points and Brynn Tabeling’s six points, three assists and three steals. Emily Clinton cooked up six points for GCMS.
PBL 62, Neoga 57
PBL 11 17 22 12 -- 62
NEO 11 10 18 18 -- 57
Emily Adwell 1-0-3, Brooke Walder 1-0-2, Baylee Cosgrove 5-3-13, Hannah Schwarz 2-0-5, Losa Suaava 1-0-2, Mallorie Ecker 0-0-0, Lorena Arnett 0-1-1, Mackenzie Bruns 9-11-29, Kirra Lantz 0-0-0, Makenna Ecker 3-1-7. Totals 22-16-62.
Kelsey Partlow 2-0-6, Olivia Titus 8-3-22, Kylee Phillips 3-7-13, Haley Stodden 0-0-0, Sydney Richards 0-0-0, Avery Fearday 3-0-7, Trista Moore 1-1-3, Audrey Ramert 3-0-6. Totals 20-11-57.
3-pointers -- PBL 2 (E. Adwell, Schwarz). Neoga 6 (Titus 3, Partlow 2, Fearday).
Monticello 64, GCMS 24
MON 20 17 19 8 -- 64
GCMS 4 1 12 7 -- 24
Hannah Swanson 9-1-21, Cloe Clark 1-1-3, Renni Fultz 7-0-14, Chloe Huddleston 1-0-2, Macey Hicks 2-1-5, Olivia Swanson 4-0-8, Lizzie Stiverson 2-2-6, Kayla Wilson 0-1-1, L. Burger 2-0-4. Totals 28-6-64.
Kadyn Barnes 1-0-2, Ashley Hyatt 0-0-0, Hailey Ferguson 0-0-0, Kennedy Fanson 0-0-0, Hannah Hathaway 2-0-6, Rylee Tompkins 0-1-1, Skyler Funk 0-0-0, Anneliese Kerchenfaut 0-0-0, Emily Clinton 0-4-4, Abby Spiller 4-0-9, Ryleigh Brown 1-0-2, Emma Swanson 0-0-0. Totals 8-5-24.
3-pointers -- Monticello 2 (H. Swanson). GCMS 3 (Hathaway 2, Spiller).