Lady Panthers’ undefeated streak ends against 3A champs
Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
As the Corydon Central Lady Panthers progress through the first half of the 2021-22 season, they have emerged as one of the better teams in the state.
With a perfect 7-0 record, the Lady Panthers had their strong start rewarded as they entered the past week ranked No. 14 in Class 3A. In their inaugural contest since cracking the top 15 last Monday, the Lady Panthers traveled to Sellersburg to face a daunting force, Mid-Southern Conference rival Silver Creek, the defending Class 3A state champion.
Like the Lady Panthers, the Lady Dragons came into the contest undefeated with a 5-0 slate. Unlike the Lady Panthers, however, the Lady Dragons kept their early season perfect as they pulled away in the second half to hand the Lady Panthers their first loss, 69-40.
“They’re a very good team, and they have a lot of good things they do on and off the ball,” Lady Panthers’ skipper Josh Conrad said. “We thought we were a pretty good team too.”
As expected of a matchup between early conference favorites, the contest began mostly evenly matched. The Lady Panthers had a slight edge in the opening minutes, knocking down five of their first six baskets to take an early 12-7 lead, including a pair of threes from junior guard Bailey Orme and freshman guard Josie Vaughn.
After a timeout by Lady Dragons’ skipper Scott Schoen, the hosts closed the gap courtesy of a 10-4 run, fueled by Lacey Tingle’s second three-pointer that helped the Lady Dragons take a slim 17-16 lead to end the opening frame.
It only took 18 seconds into the second quarter for the Lady Panthers to retake the lead as Vaughn was left wide open to knock down her second triple of the contest, prompting another Lady Dragons’ timeout. Just like before, the quick breather proved vital as the Lady Dragons stormed ahead on a 10-0 surge.
While the Lady Dragons’ latest surge was powered primarily by consecutive triples from Hallie Foley, the Lady Panthers contributed to losing the lead with overly aggressive defense. Junior guard Ava Weber picked up three quick fouls, exiling her to the bench with more than half the period to go. The Lady Panthers managed only five points after this run on buckets from Vaughn and sophomore forward Jaiden Cantrell, along with a free throw from senior guard Chloe Cannon. Tingle countered with one last bucket under the basket right before the buzzer to give the Lady Dragons a 32-24 half-time edge.
“The first 12 minutes, we thought we played pretty good; we did a good job moving the ball up the court and contesting shots,” Conrad said. “Ava’s second foul really hurt us because we thought she was about 10 feet from the play whenever it got called. When she picked up the third, we kind of shut down offensively.”
The Lady Dragons kept the fire burning as they kicked off the second half with a 10-4 run, fueled by 10 Lady Panthers’ turnovers helped along by a pair of threes from Kynidi Mason-Striverson. Upon draining her second triple, Mason-Striverson became the Lady Dragons’ latest player to reach the coveted 1,000-point plateau.
The Lady Panthers, meanwhile, managed only seven points, courtesy of three points from Weber, a Cantrell bucket and two Cannon freebies as the Lady Dragons extended their advantage to 49-31.
“When you get taken out of the game then get put back in, it’s sometimes hard to get back in the groove,” Weber said.
The hosts’ barrage from downtown continued into the final period as Tingle, Emme Rooney and Merideth Wilkinson each dropped a triple alongside buckets from Foley and Sydney Sierota. Orme had a three of her own along with a bucket from Vaughn and two free throws apiece from Weber and junior guard Bre Edwards to finalize their first loss of the season 69-40.
Out of the Lady Dragons’ six scorers on the evening, five reached double figures, led by Tingle’s 18 and Rooney’s 17. Weber led the Lady Panthers with a season-low 11 points, while Vaughn chipped in 10. Cantrell led the way on the boards with 10 rebounds.
While the undefeated streak came to a close, Conrad knows this may not be the last time his squad sees the Lady Dragons this season. Come February, the Lady Panthers’ quest for their first sectional title since 2013 will have to come at the defending state champs’ expense.
“I think if you want to win (sectional), it’s going to go through (Silver Creek) at some point,” Conrad said.
The Lady Panthers returned to action on Saturday when they hosted Vincennes Lincoln, getting back into the win column against the Lady Alices 53-40. The Lady Panthers next venture will come tomorrow (Thursday) when they travel to Scottsburg to confront the Warriorettes in Mid-Southern Conference action. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Corydon Central 16 8 7 9 – 40
Silver Creek 17 15 17 20 – 69
Corydon Central (7-1) – Weber 11, Vaughn 10, Cantrell 6, Orme 6, Cannon 3, Adams 2, Edwards 2.
Silver Creek (6-0) – Tingle 18, Rooney 17, Mason-Striverson 11, Wilkinson 11, Foley 10, Sierota 2.
3-point goals – Corydon Central 4 (Orme 2, Vaughn 2); Silver Creek 11 (Mason-Striverson 3, Tingle 3, Foley 2, Rooney 2, Wilkinson 1).