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Lady Panthers sink Charlestown in OT

Lady Panthers sink Charlestown in OT
Lady Panthers sink Charlestown in OT
Photo by Brandon Miniard. Corydon Central junior guard Ava Weber tries to save a loose ball during the Lady Panthers’ overtime victory over Charlestown last Tuesday. Weber led all scorers with 25 points.

Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]

Girls’ hoops fans who made it to Charlestown Sports Arena last Tuesday night received an early Christmas present: a tight, back-and-forth affair between the Class 3A No. 15 host Lady Pirates and their visitors, 3A No. 10 Cory-
don Central. The two sides were considered two of the best defensive teams in the Mid-Southern Conference as the Lady Panthers averaged 40.5 points allowed per game while the Lady Pirates allowed just 35.5 points per contest.
In a holiday matchup between two defensive savvy squads, both failed to build an advantage that spanned more than two possessions. The even scoring eventually sent the contest into overtime before the Lady Panthers pulled ahead for a 61-52 victory.
“Basically, we wanted to really try and go at (Charlestown) as much as we could offensively and get them into some foul trouble early,” Lady Panthers’ skipper Josh Conrad said. “They really play about five kids, and we were hoping to go at them, and I think we did that really good at times.”
The matchup was hotly contested from the start as both sides jockeyed for an early edge. The Lady Pirates’ early offense came courtesy of six points from center Demaria King, followed by four points from Laney Hawkins and three pointers from Maddie Nipper and Tatum McFarland.
The Lady Panthers responded with aggressive offense inside, drawing a number of early fouls. The penalties resulted in a perfect 8 for 8 on foul shots in the period between junior guard Ava Weber, sophomore forward Jaiden Cantrell and freshman guard Josie Vaughn. All three each chipped in a basket as well to cut the Lady Pirates’ advantage to 16-14 to end the opening frame.
Despite keeping it close, the Lady Panthers found themselves unable to take the lead for much of the second quarter. The Lady Pirates kept hold of their slim lead with four more points from King, buckets by Hawkins and Kennedy Coleman and a McFarland freebie. The Lady Panthers kept to their inside attack in the period with buckets from Cantrell, Vaughn, senior guard Chloe Cannon, junior guard Bailey Orme and freshman center Alyssa Groover. Many of those points came in the final minute as the Lady Panthers forced three consecutive turnovers that went to the hoop, capped off by a second Vaughn layup before the buzzer to give the Lady Panthers a 26-25 half-time edge.
Much like the Lady Pirates did in the second quarter, the Lady Panthers scored just enough to maintain their slim lead in the period. Those points came off an eight-point surge from Weber alongside a bucket and freebie from Cantrell. The Lady Pirates responded with four points from King, a McFarland triple and buckets from Nipper, Coleman and Hawkins, slipping by to take a 38-37 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Lady Panthers started the fourth quarter by pulling away, thanks to seven points from Weber, alongside the squad’s only three of the contest by junior guard Bre Edwards. That advantage slowly began to burn away as the Lady Panthers’ ball handling began to deteriorate. That resulted in four points for Hawkins, three points for Nipper and a bucket from King.
In the final minute of the period, the Lady Panthers grabbed momentum when Vaughn was fouled on a successful layup. After completing the three-point play, time wound down before Coleman knocked down a triple on the next possession to tie the game at 50. With the ball in their possession, the Lady Panthers got it to Vaughn for one more shot, but her last-second three-point attempt failed to even touch the rim, forcing the contest into overtime.
“We started to lose it towards the end (of regulation), and then we had some silly turnovers,” Weber said. “Sometimes, whenever there’s so much pressure on you, you’ll lose the ball. That’s OK; that’s gonna happen in basketball.”
“You got to let the game come to you a little bit, and I think that it wasn’t necessarily a ‘play’ thing,” Conrad said. “I think we were trying to force too much in those few (possessions).”
While overtime is normally a tense time for both squads, the Lady Panthers received an early Christmas present as they drew a foul on King to begin the bonus period. The penalty was King’s fifth, exiling her to the bench for the remainder of the contest.
With the 5-foot-10 forward out of their hair, the Lady Panthers mustered an 11-2 run, powered by four points from Cantrell and Weber and three free throws from Orme. The only two points in the surge came from Coleman as the Lady Panthers went into the Christmas break with a 61-52 victory.
“We kind of got sideways, but you gotta love the girls’ grit and determination to come back and get that overtime,” Conrad said. “It’s a big conference win, especially with the way it was done.”
Weber led all scorers with 25 points, followed by 13 from Cantrell and Vaughn’s 11. King led the Lady Pirates with 16 points followed by 12 from Hawkins.
With the win, the Lady Panthers continued their winning ways as they moved to 12-1 on the year. The start is their best since the 2005-06 campaign when Michael Uhl’s Lady Panthers went 19-1 during the regular season. Their only loss during that time came on Dec. 3, 2005, when they fell to Jeffersonville 57-46.
The Lady Panthers reconvened before traveling to Vincennes yesterday (Tuesday) to take part in the Niehaus Lumber Classic; they started by confronting Class 1A No. 7 Tecumseh. Depending on the results of that contest, the Lady Panthers will then face either the winner or loser of the Evansville Memorial-Jasper game today. Placement games will follow tomorrow.

Corydon Central 14 12 11 13 11 – 61
Charlestown 16 9 13 12 2 – 52
Corydon Central (12-1, 5-1 MSC) – Weber 25, Cantrell 13, Vaughn 11, Orme 5, Edwards 3, Cannon 2, Groover 2.
Charlestown (9-3, 4-2 MSC) – King 16, Hawkins 12, Coleman 9, Nipper 8, McFarland 7.
3-point goals – Corydon Central 1 (Edwards); Charlestown 4 (McFarland 2, Coleman 1, Nipper 1).