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LeROY – An early double-digit lead served as a useful buffer for the Fisher Bunnies, who outlasted LeRoy 51-47 Tuesday night in regional semi-final action.
A Danielle Hanshew free throw put the Panthers ahead 1-0 seconds into the game, but Fisher responded with eight unanswered points en route to building a 17-5 lead at the quarter break.
“If we could redo a quarter, I would really like the first quarter back. We came out sluggish, they came out on fire and that was the difference,” LeRoy coach Danielle Cooley said.
Four first-half triples – two from Brittney Enos in the first quarter and one each from Cassidy Thomas and Sidney Hood – helped the Bunnies extend the lead to 28-12 with 15 seconds left in the half.
“Early on, we did exactly what we talked about doing in practice the last few days,” Fisher head coach Ken Ingold said. “We really stuck with the game plan in the first half.”
That strategy was work the ball to Alivia Spenard and Becca Clanton in the post. The pair finished the game accounting for more than half of the Bunnies’ points, scoring 16 points and 14 points respectively. When the defense collapsed in the post, the pair found the open shooters as well.
But the Panthers’ pace for the second half was largely set by a last-second shot to end the first half. Skielyr Trenkle, the Panthers’ lone senior who scored nine points in the game, buried a three to pull LeRoy within 28-15.
The Panthers opened the second half with an 8-2 run, working it into the post to junior Jessica Newton, who had six of her eight points in the third quarter. By the end of the third, LeRoy trailed 48-39.
“Their players really stepped up in the second half and we got a little discombobulated,” Ingold said. “They got us in a hurry a little bit up front. They got Skielyr Trenkle more active on offense. They got Megan Woltkamp going pretty well, penetrating. I don’t think they were attacking our zone in the first half, and I knew (Coach) Danielle (Cooley) would make that adjustment.”
In the final frame, Woltkamp, a junior, took control of the Panther offense, scoring eight of her team-high 19 points, including a three-pointer with 51.5 seconds remaining which cut the Panthers’ deficit to four, and a free throw with 24.1 left on the clock which brought LeRoy within three. She also pulled down nine boards in the contest.
The Panthers’ defense forced three more turnovers the rest of the way, but couldn’t convert any of them into points as the Bunnies sealed the game on a Clanton free throw with 20 seconds left.
“I have a lot of respect, as I always do, for LeRoy because they just kept coming and coming,” Ingold said. “Thank God that game didn’t last another minute.”
For Cooley, the effort was a prideful one, even if the outcome wasn’t what was desired.
“We always hate to lose. But we were down big at one point and to be able to fight back and make it to where every possession counts,” she said. “We could have very easily just rolled over and said our season is done, but we fought hard. I’m pretty proud of all of them.”
Hanshew added six for the Panthers, while Cara Levingston scored three and Charly Warlow added two.
Cooley said she rotated five post players into the game, and each of them had a positive impact, led by Newton.
“(The post) is one of the areas that we knew we needed to improve on early in the season, so it’s a testament to our team and to our post players as to how far we have been able to improve and how hard we worked,” Cooley said. “It’s a good thing to know that none of them are seniors and we’ve got that to build on for next season.”
Cooley had similar praise for her lone senior, Trenkle.
“Skielyr is almost a four-year varsity starter. The girls love her, she is a multi-sport athlete and she brings a lot to the program,” she said. “We will definitely miss her impact.
LeRoy 61, Uni-High 24
The Panthers made their way to the semi-final game by defeating Uni-High Urbana last week.
In that game, 12 different Panthers scored and none hit double digits in the dominant victory.
Treacle and Hanshew each scored nine to lead the way, while Warlow scored eight and Woltkamp scored seven.
Levingston added five for the Panthers, and Newton, Natalie Wood, Kiera Spratt and Layna Spratt all scored four. Mahana Marcum added three, while Elizabeth Harms and Molly White each scored a pair.