MONTICELLO -- The Paxton-Buckley-Loda girls basketball team won 60-53 over Tuscola in the third-place game of the Monticello Holiday Hoopla on Saturday.
"That was probably the best team win we've had all year," PBL head coach Nathan Lawler said. "Kids bought into their role and just came together and played hard as a team. That's a good Tuscola team, so that's a big win for our program."
Tuscola (8-5) started the game on a 6-0 run via two baskets by Marissa Russo and another by Hope Dietrich. After Brooke Walder made two free throws with 4:55 left in the first quarter and Mackenzie Bruns drained a 3-pointer to cut PBL's deficit to 6-5, Brynn Tabeling converted on a three-point play with 3:55 remaining in the quarter to extend Tuscola's lead to 9-5.
The Panthers (11-5) took a 10-9 lead via a basket by Bruns and a 3-pointer by Emily Adwell. From there, however, the Warriors went on a six-point run as Russo scored the go-ahead basket before Laney Cummings added a basket and Ella Boyer made two free throws with 6.8 seconds left in the first quarter.
Bruns made a foul shot with 1.1 seconds remaining in the first quarter to make the score 15-11 at the end of the quarter.
Boyer converted on a three-point play with 7:52 left in the second quarter before PBL went on a 6-0 run of its own as Baylee Cosgrove scored a basket, Makenna Ecker tallied a bucket via a Bruns assist and Bruns drained two shots from the charity stripe with 5:22 left in the second quarter.
After Sophie Kremitzki made a free throw for Tuscola, Bruns made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:05 remaining in the second quarter to put PBL up 20-19.
Adwell then made a trey of her own to extend the advantage to 23-19.
Tabeling made a 3-pointer before stealing the ball and racing to the other basket for a layup to give Tuscola the lead at 24-23. Cosgrove then made a 3-pointer as PBL regained the lead at 26-24.
Tabeling made two free throws with 2:38 left in the second quarter to tie the game before Cosgrove drained another go-ahead trey with less than 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half.
Russo tallied a two-point bucket before Hannah Schwarz drained a 3-pointer that extended PBL's advantage to 32-28. The Panthers ended the first half with a 35-31 lead as Dietrich made a free throw with 49.7 seconds left in the second quarter before Schwarz tallied another trey with 15 seconds remaining in the quarter.
"Our girls did a nice job with them coming out early and making some buckets. We adjusted to their 1-3-1 zone," Lawler said. "We had a lot of good shooters. Us coming out, getting that confidence and getting them out of their zone (was big). We're really hard to guard man-to-man. When we did that, we were able to create some space, which helped us gain a bigger lead and helped us win tonight."
The PBL defense held Tuscola to four points in the third quarter as the lead extended to 44-35.
"Mallorie Ecker came in and just did a great job on defense," Lawler said.
Cosgrove and Russo exchanged buckets before Makenna Ecker made a basket to make the score 39-33. After Dietrich made a free throw with 5:05 left in the third quarter, Adwell drained a 3-pointer before Bruns stole the ball and scored on a fastbreak layup.
Russo made a free throw before both teams were held scoreless for the final 2:12 of the third quarter.
Bruns scored four points via two trips to the free-throw line to extend PBL's lead to 48-35 with 5:42 remaining in the game. She would made 12 free throws in the final quarter and score 13 of the Panthers' 16 fourth-quarter points en route to finishing with a game-high 26 points.
"Mackenzie's had a heck of a tournament," Lawler said. "She's taking charge of games when we need her to. She played tremendous defense tonight. There's a reason why she's one of the best players in Central Illinois. It was a really good job by her. She really stepped up and led tonight."
Tabeling and Bruns exchanged buckets before a two-point shot by Russo cut Tuscola's deficit to 50-39. Schwarz made a 3-pointer before two free throws by Bruns extended PBL's lead to 55-39 wiht 3:15 left in the game.
From there, the Warriors went on a 7-0 run as Tabeling made a 3-pointer and two free throws and Dietrich added a couple of foul shots to cut Tuscola's deficit to 55-46 with 1:51 remaining.
Bruns made two free throws with 1:34 left in the game before Tabeling made a bucket 30 seconds later to make the score 57-50. Bruns made a free throw with 1:02 remaining before Kremitzki drained a 32.9 seconds left in the game to cut the Warriors' deficit to 58-53.
After Bruns made a shot from the charity stripe with 20.9 seconds remaining, Tabeling turned the ball over four seconds later, leading to another free throw by Bruns that extended PBL's lead to 60-53 with 11.7 seconds left in the game.
Along with Bruns, Cosgrove also finished the game in double figures for the Panthers with 10 points while Adwell and Schwarz each had nine points, Makenna Ecker had four points and Walder had two points. Kirra Lantz, one of PBL's senior starters, was out of Saturday's game due to illness.
The Panthers will look to take the momentum from Saturday's game into January as they host Heyworth on Saturday, Jan. 4, before facing Urbana on the road on Thursday, Jan. 9 and hosting Eureka on Saturday, Jan. 11, and Champaign Centennial on Monday, Jan. 13.
"That's a big momentum (boost) for us, especially after coming off last night, where Ridgeview just kind of beat us up a little bit," Lawler said. "It was just a great response for our kids overall. Coming off that loss, the effort we had, I'm very proud. It was an excellent job by our girls."
PBL 60, Tuscola 53
PBL 11 24 9 16 -- 60
TUS 15 16 4 18 -- 53
Emily Adwell 3-0-9, Brooke Walder 0-2-2, Baylee Cosgrove 4-0-10, Hannah Schwarz 3-0-9, Losa Suaava 0-0-0, Mallorie Ecker 0-0-0, Lorena Arnett 0-0-0, Mackenzie Bruns 5-14-26, Makenna Ecker 2-0-4. Totals 17-16-60
Brynn Tabeling 7-3-19, Hope Dietrich 1-4-6, Laney Cummings 1-0-2, Ella Boyer 1-3-5, Hannah Hornaday 0-0-0, Maddie Stahler 0-0-0, Grace Voyles 0-0-0, Abbey Jacob 0-0-0, Sophie Kremitzki 1-1-4, Marissa Russo 7-1-15. Totals 18-14-53.
3-pointers -- PBL 10 (Schwarz 3, E. Adwell 3, Cosgrove 2, Bruns 2). Tuscola 3 (Tabeling 2, Krimitzki).