PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Panthers outlast Vikings in Camden Conference clash

Photo by Brennen Rupp TMB’s Evy Dolan puts up a shot during their game against Minneota on Friday. The Panthers won 70-66 in overtime.

TRACY – The Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Panthers are no strangers to the big moment. They have eight seniors on the roster and have played in back-to-back section championship games. That big game experience was on display down the stretch for the Panthers during their 70-66 overtime victory over the Minneota Vikings on Friday.

With the Panthers trailing 62-60 with 6.8 seconds left in the game TMB senior Evelyn Dolan stepped to the line needing to knock down a pair of free throws to tie the game. One of the many senior leaders for the Panthers knocked them both down to tie the game and eventually force overtime.

In overtime with the Panthers holding a 68-66 lead with less than 30 seconds left Dolan once again stepped to the line and knocked down a pair of free throws to help seal the victory for the Panthers.

“They were really big,” TMB coach Derek Ashbaugh said. “Without those we are done for. We had a lot of nice clutch moments throughout the course of the game. Evy hit some clutch free throws. Kaylee made some free throws and hit the jumper to give us the lead in overtime. We found it when we needed to.”

With the loss TMB extended it’s winning streak to 15 games and improved to 16-1 overall. In the process they snapped Minneota’s 12-game winning streak.

“This isn’t a setback,” Minnetoa coach Chad Johnston said. “We don’t like losing. This is a team that has only lost one game. They have a lot of good players. They have good senior leadership. They have girls that have been playing for four or five years. We are playing good ball. We need to bounce back. We have a couple of days to practice before we see Canby on Thursday. We just need to have confidence.”

With the Vikings trailing 68-66 in overtime, Morgan Kockelman, one of the team’s best free throw shooters on the team stepped to the line. The first free throw went in and out. Kockelman then missed the second free throw.

The Vikings finished the game 22 of 35 from the free-throw line. Johnston said it will be easy for people to remember the free throws that were missed in overtime, but noted that his team needs to be better throughout the entire game.

“It’s easy for everybody to remember those two,” Johnston said. “But those weren’t the only two that we missed. Those weren’t the box outs that we missed. It’s easy to remember the end of the game, but you have to take a look at the whole picture. I’m not going to worry about the last two free throws of the game. That wasn’t to win the game, that was to keep it going. I was happy that we fought back to make it a game and get to overtime. I think we left 13 free throws out there. A couple of those shots go in. I’m not even talking about the ones at the end. I’m talking about the ones earlier in the game. If you make those the game is completely different. That’s how important they are.”

Lizzy Gillingham got the Vikings rolling early by scoring the first five points of the game. A pair of Lydia Sussner free throws gave the Vikings a 12-2 early lead.

“They had a couple looks early that didn’t go down for them,” Johnston said. “I couldn’t say it was anything specific that we did. We got a little momentum going and hit a couple of shots.”

The Panthers responded by going on a 9-0 run to trim Minneota’s lead to 12-11. TMB’s Sydney Lanoue scored six of TMB’s nine points during that run.

“After the first couple of minutes the girls found some patience,” Ashbaugh said. “We were able to find a little bit of a groove there. We were able to get some turnovers.”

With the Panthers within one point the Vikings answered by going on a 7-0 run to take a 19-11 lead. A Laura Karkle 3-pointer for the Panthers put a stop to Minneota’s run. Karkle scored again the next time down the court to cut Minneota’s lead to 19-16.

A Kockelman 3-pointer gave Minneota a 24-20 lead. Lanoue tied the game at 24-24 with a layup.

Kaylee Kirk scored her first points of the game by knocking down a 3-pointer. Kirk’s 3-pointer gave TMB their first lead of the game at 27-26 with 3:30 remaining in the first half.

“We started seeing girls acting tired and believing they were tired,” Johnston said. “That was something we talked about at halftime. I don’t care if you are tired. I don’t care if you played last night. We are playing tonight.”

The Panthers took a 35-29 lead into the locker room. Lanoue led the Panthers at the half with 12 points.

Lanoue scored the first field goal of the second half for either team to extend TMB’s lead to 37-31. A Molly Hennen basket cut TMB’s lead to 37-33. Lanoue answered right back to push TMB’s lead back up to six.

With the Vikings trailing 58-52 late in the game they turned to post player Lydia Sussner. Sussner scored six straight points to tie the game up at 58-58.

Ashbaugh said his team stalled out a bit down the stretch in the second half, but noted that his team came up with a big play when they needed them.

“We stalled again in the second half,” Ashbaugh said. “We just had a tough time finding any rhythm. Offensively. That’s a credit to Minneota. They are a really good defensive team. They took us out of what we wanted to do. The girls hung in there. It wasn’t pretty, but the girls dug deep and we found a way to win.”

A Dolan basket put the Panthers back up 60-58. Gillingham scored her first basket since the first half to tie the game back up at 60-60.

A pair of Sussner free throws put the Vikings up 62-60 with 15.9 seconds left. With 6.8 seconds left Dolan knocked down a pair of free throws to force overtime.

In overtime it was Lanoue that opened the scoring to put the Panthers up 64-62. A Morgan Hennen 3-pointer gave the Vikings a 65-64 lead. A pair of Kirk free throws put the Panthers back up 66-65.

Morgan Hennen drew a charge on Lanoue to get the ball back for the Vikings. A few moments later Hennen split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 66-66.

A Kirk jumper broke the tie to put the Panthers up 68-66. A pair of Dolan free throws sealed the victory for the Panthers.

Lanoue finished the game with 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals for the Panthers. Dolan finished the game with 18 points and nine rebounds. Kirk finished with a double-double, scoring 16 points and dishing out 11 assists.

The Panthers will be back at it tomorrow on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University against Pipestone Area.

“Hopefully we can keep this momentum going into tomorrow,” Ashbaugh said. “Pipestone is a very athletic team. They only gave up 37 points to Lakeview the other night. We will have our work cut out for us offensively, hopefully the defense can carry us.”

Sussner recorded a double-double for the Vikings, scoring 28 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. Abby Hennen scored 11 points. Kockelman finished with 10 points.

Minneota 29 33 4-66

TMB 35 27 8-70

SCORING: Minneota (Sussner 28; A. Hennen 11; Kockelman 10; M. Hennen 8; Gillingham 7) TMB (Lanoue 20; Dolan 18; Kirk 16; Karkle 7; Christian 5).

REBOUNDING: Minneota (Sussner 15; M. Hennen 10; Gillingham 6) TMB (Dolan 9; Lanoue 8).

ASSISTS: Minneota (Gillingham 3) TMB (Kirk 11).

STEALS: Minneota (Sussner 3) TMB (Lanoue 4; Kirk, Smith 3).

BLOCKS: Minneota (Sussner, M. Hennen 2) TMB (Lanoue 2).