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Lady Panthers 2-2 after loss to Kidder County

By Sue Sitter - | Jan 9, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Panthers forward Joey Wolf attempts a pass to center Bella McCabe over a pack of Kidder County Wolves.

The Rugby High Lady Panthers have a two and two win/loss record after a 38-44 loss against the Kidder County Wolves in Rugby’s Hanneman Gym Dec. 29.

The teams had met two years ago in the Betty Englestad Center in Grand Forks for the North Dakota State Class B Championship. The Wolves went into that contest with a number one ranking. The Panthers matched Kidder County with equal aggression and took them down, finishing the tournament in second place.

This year’s meeting saw the two evenly matched teams face off with different results.

“They’re a very quick, scrappy team,” Panthers coach Jennifer Brossart said of the Wolves.

The Panthers encountered an intense Kidder County defense from the start as they attempted shots through a pack of players in their posts. Many attempts to find clear paths through the crowd of opponents resulted in fouls for the Panthers.

Guards Avery Rath and Madelyn Schmidt and forward Kennedy Harter made good on free throws to add four points to their 15 point total for the first quarter.

The Panthers tied in the quarter with 15 of their own, with guard Tesha Sobolik and forward Kendyl Hager swooshing three in from the outside for nine points between them. Center Bella McCabe and guard Mykell Heidlebaugh shot layups for six more points.

The Wolves pulled away from the Panthers in the second quarter, scoring 10 more points to the Panthers’ four. Two shots from the perimeter found their target for Schmidt, who also made good on two more free throws. Hager and guard Anna Johnson each put two on the board for the Panthers.

The second half began with a 25-19 Wolves lead and plenty of potential for the Panthers to charge ahead.

However, Rugby players again found the most success shooting from the outside. Six of the Panthers’ eight points came from three point shots, one from top scorer Hager and the other from guard Sarah Blessum.

Two of the Wolves’ eight points came from free throws on fouls drawn by Harter.

After tying the points scored by the Wolves in the third quarter, the Panthers circled around Brossart and the coaching staff for advice on getting inside the paint and fending off the pack of Wolves.

Heidlebaugh made good on free throws after drawing two separate fouls. A Blessum three-pointer put the Panthers’ deficit at 35-36, within striking range of the Wolves. However, Schmidt and Harter each landed outside shots of their own, with Harter making one free throw on a drawn foul and Schmidt hitting four shots from the free throw line.

Each team scored 11 points in the final quarter, and the six point lead Kidder County established in the second quarter remained to win the game for the Wolves.

“In the first half, we had absolutely no post touches whatsoever. We didn’t get the post; the post didn’t want the ball, and we can’t rely on the perimeter just to shoot us out of a game,” Brossart said after the game. “Second half, we started to get some post touches; we started to make the defense shift a little bit and we got good luck.”

“Our girls have got to learn to play a full four quarters,” Brossart added. “We’re not responding. We’re not executing our offenses and we’ve got to be able to do that. We’ve got to be able to find posts where we can put the ball in the hole. Right now, either we’re not looking for them or when we get the ball, we’re not looking to shoot the ball. And we’ve got to be aggressive. We’ve always been an aggressive team offensively, and at times, we don’t want to shoot the ball.”

“They don’t have a lot of height,” Brossart said of Kidder County. “They don’t have a lot of depth, but they’ve got a lot of heart and they have a lot of length, and they got after it.”

“They came a long way on a Tuesday afternoon, and they took it to us on our home court. Hats off to Kidder County,” she added.

The Panthers would host the TGU Titans Jan. 5 for a District 11 matchup.

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