Breaking: Panthers fall to Titans, 48-45
The Rugby Panther girls basketball team faced a squad well-deserving of the No.1 seed in the District 11 girls basketball tournament for a reason.
The TGU Titans offense established a commanding lead early in the first quarter, with freshman forward Angie Anderson, senior forward Akesha Juarez and senior center Mattie Schmitt all setting the terms. Schmitt scored 24 points on the night, Anderson scored 12, Juarez scored eight, and sophomore guard Maddie Bollinger scored four.
“We had a nice start. We got early momentum, having a 10 or 11 point lead helped us out, we needed all those points at the end,” TGU coach Malcolm Marcus said.
The Titans defense held the Panthers to a low scoring first quarter, as junior forwards Jacie Lovcik and Darby Deckert scored eight points combined.
“We knew that Towner was gonna bring it, unfortunately our girls didn’t step up and execute the way we knew how,” Panthers coach Jen Brossart.
A couple 3s from Deckert and sophomore guard Shea Heidlebaugh not only put the Panthers into double digits, but also put them just six points shy of a tie game at the end of the first half.
A big 3 from Deckert opened the second half with a low scoring third quarter for both teams.
Both teams started to pick up momentum again in the fourth quarter. Schmitt scored 13 of her 24 points on the quarter, with Deckert just one point behind her. A big 3 from senior guard Allison Volk helped, but the Panthers still trailed by three points. The final score was 48-45 in the Titans favor.
“Towner came out with a mission, they went man [coverage], they went at it and our girls could not match up to it, Brossart said.
For Rugby, Deckert was the leader with 20 points. Heidlebaugh scored seven points, Lovcik scored four, Volk scored three, and sophomore Ashley Schmaltz scored her only point at the line.
“We thought we were a better team than when we showed them the first time this year. We played with a lot of heart,” Marcus said.
The Titans will face the Velva Aggies at 7 p.m. Monday for the title.
“Velva plays real good defense. I think it’ll be a real good ball game,” Marcus said.
The Panthers were knocked down, but they aren’t yet out of the tournament. The only thing standing between them and a spot in the Region 6 tournament are the Bottineau Stars. The Stars beat the Westhope-Newburg Sioux, 62-45, and will face the Panthers at 5:30 p.m. Monday.
“We’ve gotta come out and play our basketball. It’s our home court, we gotta come out and shoot the way we’re capable of,” Brossart said.
The Sawyer Flashes beat the Drake-Anamoose Lady Raiders, 78-49, on Saturday. For a spot at regionals they will take on the Dunseith Lady Dragons at 4 p.m. Monday.
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