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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rockets Catch Fire in Second Half

J. C. Tilton
The Tri-County North Panthers fell into a tough district in the Division Three State tournament. It is a murder’s row of teams - most of which have winning records. The strength of the district shows when last years state champs - Versailles only drew a 5 seed. Their opponent was the Anna Rockets, a battle tested team from the Shelby-Mercer county area.

North seemed to be a bit intimidated in the first quarter. Anna capitalized by scoring the first 7 points of the game. The North defense stepped up and started to generate some turnovers and these turnovers became points. Mallory Ullery scored, then Sarah Whittaker scored 3 fast break layups in a row, and senior Emily Ervin chipped in a bucket. And although the Panthers were down after one quarter, it was by just 6 points.

One pattern became evident early. The Rockets were substituting freely while the Panthers were limiting their substitutions. Anna used full court pressure during a good part of the game to help tire the Panthers. They did not generate many turnovers from the press, but did make them work the ball down the court each possession. North did try to use a zone thru most of the game to save the legs of their players. Anna countered the zone with a single post spread offense to try to spread the North defense thin.

In the second quarter North had a strong finish. After being down by double figures, they scored the last six points of the quarter and kept the gap at 6 - being down 27-21. Kindra Mullins scored from the field just before the half, but the rest of the points came from free throws as North made a point of driving to the basket against the tough man to man half court defense of Anna.

The Rockets blasted off in the second half. North assigned Abbie Schlater to Anna’s Carrie Watkins who had been an offensive dynamo. She would end up with a game high 19 points. But once North slowed down her down, the remainder of the Anna team stepped it up. Both offensively and defensively. And North’s woes were later compounded when 6 foot post player Mallory Ullery got her 5th foul. Her inside presence had helped keep Anna away from the basket. Scoring inside and outside the Rockets built an insurmountable lead. By the time that the dust settled, Anna had a comfortable 55-33 victory.

Coach Music was disappointed with the loss, “They did a good job of taking Rachel Heindl out of the game. We had a good run at the end of the first half. But they just dominated in the second half.” On his seniors, “Rachel Heindl scored over 1100 points for us and was a competitor. Sarah Whittaker pound for pound, inch for inch may be the most hard nosed player I ever coached. She keeps getting after people on defense and is a vocal leader for the team. Emily Ervin sparked us in several games with her three’s. She was a real team player throughout the season.

Finally, “We take pride in our record as a 13-8 team. We won the mythical Preble County championship as we swept the other teams. There was a late start to the season since I took over at the last minute. I am looking forward to next year with our returning players and being able to get them ready this summer.”

Scoring for the Panthers: Sara Brierly 3; Emily Ervin 3; Rachel Heindl 6; Kindra Mullins 5; Mallory Ullery 8; Sarah Whitaker 8. Comments:

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