Panthers race past defending ECC champions

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


KALEI HERING of Plymouth leads a fast break as Kettle Moraine Lutheran’s Kelsey Knuth defends during Tuesday night’s ECC basketball game. The Panthers’ Lydia Rhude trails the play. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley KALEI HERING of Plymouth leads a fast break as Kettle Moraine Lutheran’s Kelsey Knuth defends during Tuesday night’s ECC basketball game. The Panthers’ Lydia Rhude trails the play. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers’ blistering fast break ran Kettle Moraine Lutheran (Jackson) ragged to fuel a 73-59 win in a key East Central Conference girls basketball game Tuesday night at the PHS gym.

The game, the ECC opener for both teams, featured two likely conference title contenders. The Chargers are the defending league champions. PHS upped its overall record to 3-1 while KML dropped to 0-2.

PHS took control of the game with an impressive 25-4 tear in the first half which gave it a 33-12 lead with 7:00 left until halftime. Senior guard Kalei Hering climaxed the run with back-to-back layups off wellexecuted fast breaks.

Senior guard Emily Majerus drilled two three-pointers which helped ignite the 33-12 spurt.

The Chargers sliced the PHS lead to 41-31 with 1:11 until halftime but the Panthers answered with an 8-1 run which gave them a 49-32 halftime advantage. Lydia Rhude’s trey keyed the PHS spurt.

The Panthers opened up a 58-37 lead with 11:05 remaining, led by guard Emma Jewell who scored two baskets on drives to the hoop, including one on a fast break.

KML rallied to within nine, 67- 58, at the 3:11 mark after a 21-9 run. The Chargers’ comeback was sparked by their trapping, pressing defense which forced several PHS turnovers. Sophomore forward Ariana Miller sparked the tear with seven points on strong play inside.

PHS sank six free throws in the last 1:45 to help ice the win.

“We started off strong and we played really well,” said Rhude, a senior guard.

“This is a huge win. We really needed this one. We had intensity and we played smart.”

Senior guard Gwen Streblow led a balanced PHS attack with 16 points. Five Panthers scored in double figures, including 11 off the bench by Jewell.

The Panthers did a nice job of scoring off steals, many created by a trapping defense. PHS hit all five of its three-balls in the first half.

“It’s nice to get this win over one of the top-three contenders in the conference. It’s definitely important to protect our home court,” said PHS head coach Brad Shutter.

PHS plays at Waupun Friday night in another key ECC match-up. Waupun is also a probable ECC title contender.

“We did enough to hold them off. I knew KML would make runs at us,” said Shutter.

Hering and Rhude led PHS in steals with three each. Majerus had a team-high three assists. Jessica Leider led in rebounds with six.

“We shot the lights out in the first half. We hit threes, got easy ones [in transition] and got back on defense [against KML’s fast break],” said Shutter about the first half.

“Having five players in double figures is awesome. Gwen and Kalei had good, solid all-around games. Lexi Lautenschlaeger [forward] came in and gave us seven points in the first half, and did a good job down low.

“Emma Jewell really played with confidence tonight. She came off the bench and gave us a lot of good minutes,” said the coach.

PHS shot 49 percent from the field and KML hit only 32 percent.

JUNIOR VARSITY GAMES

The PHS JV No. 1 squad ran its season record to 4-0 with a 49-26 rout. The Panthers built a 33-13 halftime lead.

Hana Goeser and Kalani Smith led Panther scorers with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Gabi Mella handed out a team-high five assists.

“This was a nice team effort. I was pleased,” said PHS coach Mike Gumm.

PHS lost the JV No. 2 game, 43- 23. Elise Beck paced PHS in scoring with nine. The Panthers dropped to 1-2 on the season.

“What hurt us in this game was our rebounding and not getting back on defense,” said PHS coach Mike Milslagle.

“We played far better than in our previous game [a loss to Kiel on Nov. 22] and that is really encouraging.”


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