Will play Madison in Class 1 sectional game on Tuesday, Feb. 28th at Sturgeon starting at 7:45 p.m.
With 40 seconds left in the game Friday night against St. Elizabeth for the Class 1 District 9 Tournament title at Bunceton, Prairie Home senior Rachel Distler admitted that she got goose bumps with the Lady Panthers up 48-43.
But with one player on the bench with five fouls and another starter with four, Distler also knew things could change in a matter of seconds.
As it turned out, Prairie Home went on to capture it’s second straight district title by beating St. Elizabeth 49-46.
The Lady Panthers, 20-8 on the season, will move on to the sectional round of the state tournament on Tuesday, Feb. 28th at Sturgeon High School, where they will face the Madison Lady Panthers starting at 7:45 p.m.
Distler said it’s unbelievable winning another district title, especially with only six players. “I didn’t want it to end,” Distler said. “When we got up with 40 seconds left I told everybody not to celebrate anymore. Everyone was getting excited and I was like they can still comeback and then she hit the three with seconds left and that was just like a wake up call because you know things can change.”
Things changed for the better for the Lady Panthers, who led by as much as 10 points in the third quarter only to watch St. Elizabeth rally back to tie the game at 43-all with 2:23 left.
However prior to taking the floor against St. Elizabeth, Prairie Home coach Dalton Armontrout said nobody gave his team a chance even though they returned three starters from last year’s team and had three new girls.
“We have a girl who was a cheerleader, a girl who is just a freshman, and a girl who hasn’t played basketball for two years on the team,” Armontrout said. “It’s unbelievable from where we started to now. It just goes to show the character of these girls. They came together and everybody did their part. Shianne Rhorer didn’t have a good game but her teammates picked her up. A girl who was a cheerleader last year had four points and my freshman hit a shot in the corner and hit some big shots against Glasgow. As for my bench player, she came in and hit two big free throws. Kristin Peterson also hit a clutch three to pus us up three. We rebounded at the end and we hit our free throws. This was a great win to be back to back. However we go back to work to get ready for Madison on Tuesday.”
The Lady Panthers may want to work on coming out quickly against Madison on Tuesday.
Although Prairie Home jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter against St. Elizabeth, they couldn’t seem to find the basket after that while allowing the Lady Wildcats to rally back with eight straight to go up 8-5.
Prairie Home also finished the first quarter hitting just 1 of 8 shots from the field while turning it over five times.
The second quarter was a different story, though. Despite having a height disadvantage with three players on St. Elizabeth’s roster 5-11 or better, the Lady Panthers seemed to go another route while forcing the Wildcats to turn the ball over.
St. Elizabeth out-rebounded Prairie Home 38-21 but also had 17 turnovers compared to just 13 for the Lady Panthers.
Turnovers proved to be the difference in the second quarter as Prairie Home rallied from five points down twice at 12-7 and 14-9 to tie the game at 14-all after a basket by Distler with 1:52 left.
The Lady Panthers also outscored St. Elizabeth 13-8 in the second to lead by two at the break 18-16.
With two quarters already in the books, Prairie Home picked up where it left off in the second quarter by leading St. Elizabeth by as much as 10 points (29-19) with 4:55 left.
But even that was short-lived as the Lady Wildcats rallied back to cut the lead to two after a 5-0 run to make it 32-30 with 57 seconds left. Then, after Distler hit 1 of 2 foul to extend the lead to three at 33-30, St. Elizabeth senior Shanley Kliethermes hit a big basket to cut the lead to one at 33-32.
The Lady Wildcats also outscored Prairie Home 16-15 in the third.
The fourth quarter was just as tight as the first-three as Prairie Home jumped out to a 39-32 lead with 6:49 left only to have St. Elizabeth tie the game at 43-all with 2:23 remaining.
Distler also came up big in the fourth for Prairie Home with back-to-back threes to make it a seven-point ballgame while St. Elizabeth’s twin tower Brooke Struemph scored seven in a row to lead the Wildcats back.
However with two minutes left in the game, junior Kristen Peterson hit the big shot of her career with a three to put the Lady Panthers on top by three at 46-43. Distler followed it up with two key free throws to push the lead to five at 48-43. Then, after senior Shianne Rhorer converted on 1 of 2 foul shots with 15 seconds left, Struemph came back and hit a three right before the buzzer to make it a three-point ballgame.
Distler said she was scared in the fourth quarter when St. Elizabeth started to make its run.
“I knew we were in the bonus the whole time so if we just stayed aggressive I knew we could get to the foul line and we could pull it out if we played good defense,” Distler said. “Our game plan was to stop their big girls and No. 10 on the outside.”
Distler also knew the team was depending on her in the third quarter with Shianne on the bench with four fouls.
“I knew the whole team and the crowd was depending on me so I just took over and the shots fell,” Distler said.
Distler finished the game for Prairie Home with 27 points along with seven rebounds and two steals.
Shianne Rhorer chipped in nine points, nine rebounds, five steals and two assists while Kristen Peterson added five points, three steals and one assist, Elizabeth Fairchild with four points and three rebounds and Kurstin Leonard and Ashlyn Twenter each with two points, two rebounds and two steals.
The Lady Panthers also finished the game shooting 37 percent from the field and 86 percent from the foul line.
For St. Elizabeth, Brooke Struemph had 15 points, Shanley Kliethermes 12 and Kayla Struemph with 10.