Mackenzie Bruns

The Paxton-Buckley-Loda Panthers’ Mackenzie Bruns goes for a layup against the Heyworth Hornets’ defense on Saturday, Jan. 4. PBL followed its third-place finish in the Monticello Holiday Hoopla tournament a week earlier with a 56-42 win over the visiting Hornets.

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PAXTON — The Paxton-Buckley-Loda Panthers’ girls’ basketball team grabbed another win on Jan. 4 when they hosted the Heyworth Hornets, beating the visitors 56-42.

The Hornets took possession after tip-off and put up a successful three-point shot to start the game, but the Panthers battled back with three back-to-back three-pointers from Kirra Lantz, Emily Adwell and Hannah Schwarz, respectively, giving the Panthers a 9-3 lead.

Heyworth answered with another three-pointer and battle-back to reclaim the lead 11-9 with 3:49 left in the first quarter. Some quick offense allowed the Panthers to pull ahead with a 20-14 spread with 1:30 left in the quarter.

A foul from the Panthers sent the Hornets’ Raeghan Morefiled to the line to grab one point, but that was soon answered with another well-placed three-pointer from PBL’s Schwarz. PBL was then able to regain possession and head down the floor on a breakaway to put the score at 25-15 over the Hornets.

In the second quarter, PBL maintained its lead, holding a 36-25 advantage to end the half.

After the break, a scoreless two minutes ended when the Hornets were able to move down the floor to score. However, that was soon answered with a basket from PBL. A foul from the Panthers once again sent the Hornets’ Morefield to the line, and she failed to make her extra points. The Panthers then recovered the ball and were able to pass the ball off to Emily Adwell to score a three-pointer. The two teams continued to battle with the Panthers maintaining a 44-35 lead heading into the final quarter.

Heyworth got on the board first to start the final eight minutes, putting up two points. Applied pressure from the Hornets forced the Panthers to call a timeout with 6:03 left in the game. When play resumed, the Panthers passed the ball to Schwarz, who knocked down her third three-pointer of the game to put the score at 47-37.

PBL was fouled with 4:28 remaining and was sent to the line to score one of two free throws. From there, the Hornets were able to drive down to score and call a timeout of their own. After the timeout, PBL’s Bruns put up a layup to put the Panthers at 50 points to the Hornets’ 39. The Panthers then grabbed another six points and held the Hornets to just three to take the win 56-42.

“Our kids always play hard,” said PBL head coach Nathan Lawler. “They’re very coachable. That’s the thing I’ve most enjoyed. The biggest thing is that they play as a team. We have tremendous individual talent, but they share the ball and support one another. That’s what I’m most proud of. The culture that the’ve built is all about team unity and how important it is to love playing with one another.”

Bruns led the Panthers with 22 points. Schwarz followed with 14, while Adwell had eight.

The Panthers (12-5) take on Urbana on Jan. 9 on the road.