Listen to this article

PAXTON — The Paxton-Buckley-Loda Panthers girls’ basketball team suffered a tough loss to the Eureka Hornets on Saturday afternoon, falling 63-50.

The loss put the Panthers at a record of 13-6 on the season.

To start the game, the Hornets managed to get possession of the ball first and grab two unanswered baskets to go up 4-0. But a successful three-point shot from PBL senior Kirra Lantz put the Panthers back in the game down 4-3. The two teams duked it out for the remainder of the quarter, with the Panthers hot on Eureka’s trail with a score of 20-18 to move into the second quarter.

The Panthers came out hot in the second quarter, with PBL’s Mackenzie Bruns drawing a foul while making a layup to pick up an extra point and put the Panthers on top 21-20. The Hornets were able to regain the lead with about 6:21 left in the half and then extend their lead to 26-21 with just under five minutes left in the quarter. The Hornets grabbed another six points to the Panthers three to end the half up 32-24.

The Panthers grabbed nine points in the third quarter of play, but Eureka was able to outscore them offensively with 15, making the score 47-33 heading into the final eight minutes. Though the Panthers were able to outscore the Hornets in the final quarter, picking up 17 points to Eureka’s 16, they could not overturn the lead the Hornets had taken and suffered defeat 63-50.

Leading the Panthers in scoring was Bruns with 26 points. Baylee Cosgrove grabbed 10 of her own. Mallorie Ecker had six.

“Overall, I thought our kids played really hard. Eureka wins 20 games every year, and I do think their half-court man-to-man (defense) kind of bothered us a little bit,” said the Panthers’ head coach, Nathan Lawler.  “They did a nice job being physical with us and forced us into a lot of turnovers. But our kids kept fighting and kept digging.”

Although the outcome was not what the team had hoped for going into the game, Lawler said there were a few key elements from his team that kept the team afloat.

“Mackenzie Bruns always plays well,” he said. “She had a good game and found a way to be aggressive and get her teammates involved. Makenna Ecker started for us, as well, and put up some points for us and played well rebounding defensively. Baylee Cosgrove always takes on the challenge of guarding the best player and even hit a three with four minutes left to cut it to six, so we had some great individual efforts.”

PBL faces Centennial on Jan. 13.

“Centennial once again is another bigger school. So, we’re going to see size and athleticism that we aren’t really accustomed to,” Lawler said. “Then, we’ll see Iroquois West once again here at home on Thursday. So we’ll have a couple of home games to gear ourselves up for the SVC (Sangamon Valley Conference) tournament.”