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The Panthers girls drop to seventh place

BY JIM [email protected]

LAWRENCE — Great Bend’s Sadie Spray was spectacular as usual with a season-high 16 points and several steals in an unfortunate 46-40 loss to Topeka West at the Firebird Basketball Classic on Friday.

The Panthers played well enough to hang on, but not well enough to get a hard-fought victory. Great Bend made 15 of 43 field goals. But the Panthers missed a golden opportunity at the free throw line, converting 9 of 25 attempts for 36%.

Simply put, poor free throws cost the Panthers a win.

The Panthers’ pressure was effective late on, but they turned the ball over twice after forcing errors from Topeka West. Jazynn Ford had 12 points and Azaryah Duncan added nine points for the Chargers.

Great Bend head coach Cindy Beck believed it was a case of missed opportunities.

“We played tight at offensive end,” Beck said. “We were uncomfortable. We had girls cutting the lane, which was the right idea. But they helped us with three girls and we threw it at them. Not the look we wanted. We have to see it.

The Panthers held the lead through much of the first half. Spray, Paige Thexton, Emilee Hall, and Makenzie Premer scored in the first quarter as the Panthers trailed 12–10.

An excellent pass marked a surge in the second quarter. Thexton moved on to Hall. Presser found Spray. Thexton found Hall for a 16-12 lead. For the third time in three games, the Panthers committed a turnover and Ford scored the final field goal for a 23-21 halftime lead.

“We played zone defense a little bit and had a run in the second quarter,” Beck said. “But they’ve gotten some referrals from rebounds. We have to maintain the box-out position for the entire game.

As usual, Spray scored 10 second half points to spark play in the second half. Cassie Ellegood converted a 3-point play. Hall and Thexton each split a pair of free throws to keep the Panthers up 39-37. But Duncan drilled a triple and the Chargers converted four free throws in the last 2:19.

The Panthers (5-7) face winless Lawrence Free State (0-11) Saturday at 10:30 in the seventh-place game.

“We’re not in the game you want to be in,” Beck said. “We have to show up and be ready to play. We have to fight for everything we have.”

Topeka West 12 11 12 11 – 46

Great Curve 10 11 10 9 – 40

TOPEKA WEST (3-9)—Ford 5-8 1-4 12, Gonzales 1-4 0-0 3, Brooks 2-6 1-2 5, McGlory 2-2 0-0 5, Alexander 1-7 0- 0 2, Duncan 2-6 4-7 9, Hall 0-3 2-2 2, Clark 1-7 1-4 4, Bearman 1-4 2-2 4, Overalls 15-46 11-21 46

GREAT BEND (5-7)—Spray 6-14 4-10 16, Hall 3-11 2-7 8, Premer 3-5 0-0 6, Ellegood 1-1 2-4 5, Thexton 1-3 1- 2 3, Reimer 1-5 0-2 2, Feist 0-2 0-0 0, McCauley 0-2 0-0 0, Overalls 15-43 9-25 40

3-pointers-TW 5-15 (McGlory 1-1, Ford 1-1, Gonzalez 1-3, Duncan 1-3, Clark 1-5, Alexander 0-2); GB 1-5 (Spray 1-2, Hall 0-1, Feist 0-2)

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