PAXTON -- The Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School girls basketball team cut a 17-point deficit down to four in the second half of a game played Monday, Dec. 2, against Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin.
The Panthers could not complete the comeback, however, as BHRA won 59-51.
“There are just some little things we’ve got to clean up," PBL head coach Nathan Lawler said. "Our slow starts are kind of hurting us and putting us in a bad spot. Our girls played their butts off tonight. I’m very proud of them.”
The Panthers (3-3) started the second half with a 33-19 deficit before a free throw and a basket by Emily Meidel -- a two-time all-state selection who finished Monday's game with 34 points -- extended BHRA's lead to 36-19.
After a basket by Baylee Cosgrove, Meidel made another bucket with 6:18 remaining in the third quarter to make the score 38-21.
A 3-pointer by Hannah Schwarz -- who finished with five points -- cut PBL's deficit to 38-24. After Meidel tallied two more points via a basket, the Panthers went on an 8-0 run.
After baskets by Mackenzie Bruns -- who had a team-high 15 points for PBL -- and Makenna Ecker -- who finished with four points -- a frontcourt steal led to a basket by Cosgrove -- who had nine points -- that cut PBL's deficit to 40-30.
Another steal led to a basket by Bruns that made the score 40-32 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
After Meidel stopped the run via a basket, Cosgrove drew Sierra Bryant's fourth foul and made a free throw with 2:34 remaining and Bruns tallied two free throws with 1:39 remaining to cut the Panthers' deficit to 42-35.
Baskets by Ryley Cash and Sophia Rome extended BHRA's lead to 46-35 as the third quarter came to an end. Early in the fourth quarter, Bruns stole the ball and raced toward the other basket for a fastbreak layup to cut PBL's deficit to 46-37.
After Meidel scored on an offensive-rebound putback, Kirra Lantz made a 3-pointer to cut the Panthers' deficit to 48-40 before a steal and assist by Walder led to a Cosgrove basket and another steal led to a Bruns basket that further cut the deficit to 48-44.
“Our presses were great. Our kids are really starting to buy into their rotations," Lawler said. "They’re not easy rotations to make, but they’re buying in, and it was probably the best I’ve seen our zone press in my three years I’ve been here. It was a great job. Kudos to our kids, and I’m just proud of their effort.”
A free throw by Meidel and a putback by Bryant extended BHRA's lead to 51-44 with 2:43 remaining. Twenty seconds later, Lantz -- who, like Bruns, also scored in double figures with 11 points, including three 3-pointers -- drained a trey to cut PBL's deficit to 51-47.
“We’re getting some kids to buy into their role," Lawler said. "Once they buy into their role, we’re going to be really good because we’re hard to guard. We have a lot of really good shooters and playmakers.”
Meidel made a 3-pointer before stealing the ball and racing toward the other basket for a fastbreak layup to extend BHRA's lead to 56-47 before another Lantz 3-pointer cut the Panthers' deficit to 56-50.
Emily Clapp and Bruns exchanged free throws to make the score 57-51 with 35.7 seconds left before Meidel assists Rome on a layup that concluded the scoring at 59-51.
Meidel started the game's scoring via two free throws with 7:29 left in the first quarter. After a free throw by Walder made the score 2-1 15 seconds later, two baskets by Meidel and a bucket by Bree Maloney extended the Blue Devils' lead to 8-1.
Bruns made two free throws with 5:33 left in the first quarter before Meidel made a 3-pointer that extended BHRA's lead to 11-3. Meidel scored 13 of her 34 points during the first quarter.
“She’s phenomenal," Lawler said. "There’s a reason why she’s a two-time all-stater. She probably shot anywhere from 60 to 75 percent from the floor. She’s very efficient. She takes good shots. She runs the offense. We did a much better job in the second half. If we see them again, I’ve got to do a better job of preparing the girls for her because she’s a tremendous talent, and she’ll definitely play at the next level.”
After Cosgrove made a basket with 5:04 left in the first quarter, another bucket by Walder -- who finished with seven points -- made the score 11-7 with 4:55 remaining in the quarter.
Baskets by Cash and Meidel, and two more free throws by Meidel, extended BHRA's lead to 17-7. Schwarz and Meidel exchanged baskets to make the score 19-9 before another bucket by the Blue Devils' Audrey Taylor and a basket by Ecker made the score 21-11 as the first quarter came to an end.
Walder made a basket to cut PBL's deficit to 21-13 before Cash made a free throw with 7:18 left in the second quarter. Two free throws by Bruns made the score 22-15 with 6:59 left in the second quarter before a foul shot by Bryant made the score 23-15.
From there, Rome and Cash each made a basket to extend BHRA's lead to 27-15. Walder made a bucket before buckets by Meidel and Rome extended the Blue Devils' lead to 31-17.
Lantz and Bryant exchanged free throws to end the first-half scoring.
After the Panthers travel to face Dwight on Thursday in their Sangamon Valley Conference opener, they will host Rantoul on Monday and travel to Downs Tri-Valley on Tuesday in nonconference contests.
They will then host SVC foe Clifton Central on Thursday, Dec. 12, before traveling to face nonconference opponent St. Joseph-Ogden on Monday, Dec. 16.
“I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks," Lawler said. "It’s going to be fun.”
Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin 59, PBL 51
BHRA 21 12 13 13 -- 59
PBL 11 8 16 16 -- 51
Natalie Clapp 0-0-0, Emily Meidel 13-6-34, Sophia Rome 4-0-8, Emily Clapp 0-1-1, Bree Maloney 1-0-2, Ryley Cash 3-1-7, Sierra Bryant 1-3-5, Audrey Taylor 1-0-2. Totals 23-11-59.
Emily Adwell 0-0-0, Brooke Walder 3-1-7, Baylee Cosgrove 4-1-9, Hannah Schwarz 2-0-5, Mallorie Ecker 0-0-0, Lorena Arnett 0-0-0, Mackenzie Bruns 4-7-15, Kirra Lantz 3-2-11, Makenna Ecker 2-0-4. Totals 18-11-51
3-pointers -- BHRA 2 (Meidel 2). PBL 4 (Lantz 3, Schwarz).