Lady Panthers bite back

 

Doug Radunich

Justine Fourman drives in for a shot during the Lady Panthers' battle against Little Snake River's Lady Rattlers. Saratoga won 50-47, and Fourman scored 13 points.

After a 19-point loss to Little Snake River last month, Saratoga's Lady Panthers fought back with a vengeance to take down the Lady Rattlers Saturday with a close 50-47 score.

The Lady Panthers previously lost 33-52 in their Dec. 20 game against the Lady Rattlers, making Saturday's victory a most welcome comeback in Panther territory. The win was also a nice addition to the Lady Panthers' 2013-14 record, after a six-game losing streak that included Friday's 51-70 conference loss against Burns.

The win now puts the Lady Panthers at 4-8 (non-conference) and 0-2 (conference). The Lady Rattlers now sit at 7-3 for non-conference after their weekend hit in Saratoga.

Saturday's game was a close call throughout when looking at point difference, although Saratoga was the leading team at the end of the second and third quarters. The Lady Panthers started the fourth quarter leading 42-37, but were barely taking over 48-47 once 30 seconds remained.

Once the clock was down to 20 seconds, a foul was called on Little Snake River, which allowed Saratoga's Meredith Lincoln to sink a free-throw toward a 49-47 lead. The Lady Rattlers were unable to score again, and with only three seconds left, another Rattler foul let Justine Fourman ace a free-throw, giving the Lady Panthers a three-point lead. With not much Little Snake River could do in a matter of few seconds, the game ended 50-47 and the local crowd went wild.


Meredith Lincoln was the top scorer, with 14 points, followed by Justine Fourman with 13, Cruz Escobedo with six, Shelby McGuire with five, Heather Oxford with four, Kelsie Samson and Haley Soles with three each and Katie Loose with two. Coach Matt Love said he was quite pleased with the close turnout, especially when looking at past game history with the Lady Rattlers.

"Last year we played them here and I think we were up by almost 20 at half, and then we go over there and think we ended up winning by six or seven at the end," he said. "Last year when we went there they were a whole different team, and they beat us by 20. Then, we went there right before Christmas this year and they beat us by 20. It has really been one extreme to the other."

After last month's loss of nearly 20 points, Love said his girls were definitely back with a vengeance against Little Snake River this time.

"It was great to see the girls come out and want a little bit of revenge, and they wanted to redeem themselves a little bit because we didn't have a very game over there," he said. "Our bench play also really showed today. We had a few starters in foul trouble, and Veronica Lincoln was out because she hurt her knee yesterday. The bench really came through for us today, so it was a really great team win."

Along with their desire for revenge, Love said he noticed his girls play much better over the first time they faced the Lady Rattlers this season.

"Our team defense was much better, as well as our rebounding," she said. "We caused a lot of turnovers, but we struggled capitalizing on them. Snake River's always tough and always well coached, so we knew this was going to be a tough game; especially after getting home so late the night before from Burns."

Meredith Lincoln, the team's top scorer, also stressed the importance of teamwork in helping her sink those 14 points.

"I think it's a real team effort, so whatever the team contributes, you contribute," she said. "If we just believe in each other, work hard and get the plays down, it usually works out for us. We just need to take time and have patience. Little Snake River is definitely a strong team in 1A and one to look out for."

The junior varsity Lady Panthers also snagged a win over Little Snake River Saturday, with 50-33. The varsity Lady Panthers play their third conference game at Lusk Friday.

"We'll continue to work hard on defense and rebounding, as we have another tough conference game in Lusk on Saturday," Love said.

 

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