PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Panthers outlast LQPV down the stretch, 59-58

Photo by Lacey Barke TMB’s Evy Dolan looks to score during their game against Lac qui Parle Valley on Friday. The Panthers defeated the Eagles 59-58.

TRACY – It came down to the final seconds and a key trip to the free-throw line by Kaylee Kirk, but the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton girls basketball team was able to outlast the Lac qui Parle Valley Eagles in a thrilling 59-58 victory on Friday night.

With the game tied at 58-58 with just under a minute remaining, the Panthers maintained possession looking for one final basket to give themselves the victory. TMB point guard Kaylee Kirk drove hard to the basket and drew a foul, sending the senior to the free-throw line for a chance to seal it. After a rare miss on the first attempt, Kirk calmly stepped up and connected on the second shot to give the Panthers a one-point lead.

LQPV had one final opportunity to win the game, but their buzzer-beater attempt fell short, lifting the Panthers to a tight victory.

TMB coach Derek Ashbaugh said that he could go down the whole team roster and say how great each girl did during the game. “We had to have a little bit more patience in the second half, and the girls did that,” he said. “Kaylee Kirk had a nice game, she did a very nice job and had her hands full on defense. Evy (Dolan) had a nice game as well, and Alecia Christian had a big shot for us– I could go on and on.”

TMB brought intensity to the ballgame the moment they stepped out onto the court through quick drives to the basket and aggressive rebounding. The Panthers also wasted no time on defense and shut down the Eagles in the paint, not allowing any looks to the inside. Because of the tough defense early on, the first point that Lac qui Parle Valley put on the board was earned from the free-throw line. Sydney Lanoue came through for her team with a steal that she put back for an effortless layup. The Panthers had a solid 21-5 lead over the Eagles with 11 minutes until halftime, but LQPV steadily chipped away at the deficit and came back to trail by only 37-31 at halftime.

Ashbaugh and his team went into the game knowing what they were up against. “We talked to the girls before the game about it being a game of runs,” he said. “We had a nice run at the beginning, but then they chipped away and had a little run of their own. we knew it was going to be back and forth and we just had to keep our heads down and weather the storm to be ready for the next play.”

The Panthers came out of the halftime break on a cold streak, as they struggled to connect on their shots, while the Eagles burst ahead using their 3-pointers to capture the lead for the first time in the game with a score of 39-37. LQPV utilized the quickness of their guards to set up inside shot opportunities and found success outside of the arc as well. Despite the Eagles increasing their game effort, TMB picked up the pace around the 12-minute mark with some expert shooting from Kirk, who earned the next 11 points for her team. Even though the Panthers were putting up better shots, they were unable to run away with the game like they did in the beginning, as LQPV was responding with buckets of its own this time, setting up the stage for the thrilling finish.

Leading her team in points for the night’s game was Kirk who earned 22 points, while Dolan came up with 12 and Lanoue had 11. Kirk led TMB with seven assists, while Lanoue helped out with four and Cassidy Smith and Dolan each chipped in with two. Dolan led the rebounding effort with 12 total rebounds, while Kirk had five and Lanoue found four. Sidney Karbo earned the only two blocks for the Panthers while Kirk also led her team with five steals.

LQPV 31 27 — 58

TMB 37 22 — 59

TRACY-MILROY-BALATON: Smith 0-3 2-2 2, Kirk 5-14 11-13 22, Karbo 1-6 0-0 3, Edwards 2-3 0-0 4, Christian 1-2 1-2 3, Lanoue 3-9 5-7 11, Dolan 6-12 0-2 12, Karkle 1-3 0-0 2. TOTALS: 19-52 19-26 59.

3-POINTERS: 2-12 (Kirk 1-3, Karbo 1-4). REBOUNDS: 29 (Dolan 12). ASSISTS: 18 (Kirk 7). STEALS: 14 (Kirk 5). BLOCKS: 2 (Karbo 2). FOULS: 12. TURNOVERS: 18.