After reflecting on last night's 52-39 loss to Jim Thorpe, Panther Valley might have wished that there was no one minute break between the first and second quarters.
That brief pause seemed to disrupt the focus of the Lady Panthers while it allowed the Lady Olympians to reset their game strategy and go on to win their third game of the year.
It appeared that Panther Valley would dominate after the first eight minutes even after shooting just two-for-17 from the floor. And that's because Jim Thorpe was held to just five points while getting only nine shots and committing nine turnovers.
Then came that one minute break.
The second quarter was an entire reversal of the first as Jim Thorpe not only erased a five-point deficit, it took a 23-20 lead into the intermission. Led by Nikki Ennis's three three-pointers and Briea Bush's bucket which gave Thorpe its first lead, the Olympians found some rhythm in their offense, and this time, it was the Panthers who turned the ball over 11 times and were able to take only nine shots at the basket.
"With that many turnovers, we can't create any offense," said Panther Valley coach, Brad Hurley. "Unlike the first quarter when our defensive pressure was able to transition into some baskets for us, it failed us in the second."
In the third quarter, the Panthers' performance didn't get any better as they went 5:33 before Taylor Vance scored their first points. Meanwhile, Jim Thorpe manufactured a 9-0 run, aided by Ennis's fourth three, to help increase the lead to 34-25 going into the final eight minutes.
"We had two days of great practices to fine tune our defense and put in some new wrinkles on offense and we performed our game strategy pretty well in the last three quarters," said Jim Thorpe coach Rob Kovac.
The fourth quarter turned into a highlight reel for Olympian freshman, Alexis Naranjo.
"Although at times she plays like what she is a freshman she shows flashes of being a 1,000 point scorer and one of the best in our league," said Kovac. "When the game slows down for her, she can be as good as anybody."
Naranjo scored 13 of her game-high 17 points, mostly on strong drives to the basket. In fact, from the 6:22 mark until her turnaround two-pointer on a feed from Gabby Binder with 2:30 to go, Naranjo had tallied all of her team's points.
"I just felt it in the fourth," said Naranjo. "I was looking to score and I love to drive to the basket.'
Hurley analyzed the game as his team's inability to execute.
"We wanted to attack the gaps in their zone, but we just couldn't get it done," said Hurley. "Give credit to Jim Thorpe. They were the better team tonight."
Kovac saw more than just a basketball game victory.
"This victory is a real tribute to our seniors," he said. "Knowing that we have no shot at the playoffs, they still competed and tonight and they were rewarded.
"We continue to improve and we are setting a strong foundation for the near future when we will get an infusion of talented young players from the middle school level."
In addition to Naranjo's 17 points, Ennis added 13 and Binder had nine for Thorpe.
Madison Blasko paced the Panthers (6-8) with 14 points. Macey Markovich and Jamey Mikovich chipped in with nine apiece.
Blasko 5-3-4-14, Vance 1-0-0-2, Marouchoc 0-0-0-0, Jacobs 2-0-0-5, Smith 0-0-0-0, Mac. Markovich 3-0-0-9, C. Markovich 0-0-0-0, Mikovich 3-3-4-9. TOTALS: 14-6-8-39.
Condly 1-0-0-2, Ennis 4-1-2-13, Naranjo 6-5-7-17, Rusbarsky 3-0-0-6, Cressman 1-1-2-3, Binder 4-1-2-9, Bush 1-0-0-2. TOTALS: 20-8-13-52.
Panther Vy. 10 10 5 14 - 39
Jim Thorpe 5 18 11 18 - 52
Three-pointers: PV- Mac. Markovich 3, Jacobs 1, Blasko 1. JT- Ennis 4.