Lady Panthers Grind Out Win (video)

The Lady Panthers host their third consecutive home game on Monday with Eastland.
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The Rockridge Lady Rockets have a had tough year on the court posting just one win so far this season. Records can be deceiving as the Lady Panthers battled the Rockets for 32 minutes on Thursday in a game that was close throughout before the Panthers were able to seal a 43-39 win at the free throw line.

The Panthers picked up their second win of the week to move to 9-10 on the season.

Both teams started the contest with hard nosed man-to-man defenses, which kept scoring at a premium early. Three-point buckets by Olivia Purvis and Gabi Abell put the Panthers up 10-3 with 3:10 left in the opening quarter. That would be the largest lead of the game for EP as the Rockets battled back to trail 13-10 after getting a put back at the buzzer.

Rockridge gained their first lead of the game on a 3-point basket by Chloe Strachan halfway through the second quarter, one of 4 triples the Rockets would score on the night. Another buzzer beating shot put the Rockets ahead 21-20 at the half.

The Panthers struggled early in the second half as missed three-point tries and turnovers coupled with two 3-ponit buckets by the Rockets gave them a 27-20 lead with 4:40 to go in the third period.

Panther coach Chris Brown called a timeout and told his players it was the key moment in the game. “I said ‘are we going to fight back and respond?’ and I thought the girls did a really good job of doing that,” said Brown.

EP went on a 8-0 run to get them back in the game when disaster struck. Panther point guard and leading scorer Kennedy Buck took a hard fall and had to leave the game. Without their floor leader the Panthers struggled offensively turning the ball over on three consecutive possessions. “When Kennedy went down everyone thought ‘oh boy here we go’, but the group we had in, stayed positive and did a good job when she was out”‘ said Brown. Fortunately for the Panthers, the Rockets were unable to convert the chances and a nice drive by Purvis put the Panthers back in front 28-27. Rockridge finally ended their scoring drought with their third basket at the buzzer of the night to take a 1 point lead into the final 8 minutes.

Buck returned to the Panther lineup at the start of the 4th frame with the squads trading the lead multiple times through the quarter. Strachan put the Rockets up 38-37 with 1:30 left in the game with a nifty spin move in the lane.

Buck then went to work at the free throw line as she converted 5/6 attempts in the final ninety seconds with the Panthers holding the Rockets to just a single point in that stretch. A costly turnover and a technical, called on the Rocket’s head coach, helped secure the win for the Panthers.

Buck had 16 including a 8/12 performance at the line. Sydney Schwartz was in double digits for the second game in a row with 12 including a pair of three-point buckets. Sophomore Keaten Needham had 14 for Rockridge.

“I was super proud of the girls’ effort,” added Brown. “Our defense was solid most of the game. Reagan Sibley played with foul trouble most of the night and did a great job of keeping herself in the game. I have a good group of kids and they just keep fighting and if they continue that we are going to be in a lot of games. This was a good win for us to come from behind and figure out a way to get a victory. That will help us as we go up against the best teams in the conference down the stretch”.

The Panthers will host Eastland on Monday as they continue a stretch of home contests.

The final minute of the Lady Panther win.

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