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  • Keith Hjelle

Two Very Different Games: Charger Girls Lose Big; Boys Top Panorama in a Game of Runs

Webster defines the noun "contrast" as "a notable dissimilarity between things compared." That is certainly what local basketball fans saw when the Panorama Panthers and ACGC Chargers basketball teams squared off last night on the Charger hard court. The juggernaut Panther girls' team won handily over the Charger girls in a 70-38 win. By contrast the boys' game was not decided until the final two minutes of play when the Chargers pulled out a 61-54 victory.

With a good crowd on hand to see the county and conference rivals duke it out, the traditionally strong Panther girls made quick work of the Chargers, racing to a 12-2 lead in the first three minutes of the game and a 24-6 score after the first quarter.

Over the last ten seasons, with this being the tenth, veteran Panther coaches Dan Druivenga and Tim Lazenby and their teams have amassed a 189-33 won-loss record for a winning percentage of 85%, with eight conference championships and six consecutive appearances in the "game to go" (to state) to their credit. So, the Chargers are not the only team to have lost to Panorama by a wide margin.

With the outcome never in doubt, the Panthers continued to roll to a 40-20 halftime lead, led by Bailey Beckman's 12 and Devyn Kemble's 9 points respectively. Jorga Hoover led the Charger scoring at the break with 6 points, while Sierra O'Brien and Jaden Carrick contributed 4 each.

The margin swelled to 32 after the third stanza, 58-26, as relentless pressure by the Panthers resulted in thirty two ACGC turnovers for the game which, in turn, led to thirty two Panther points.

The final quarter saw the two teams play to a 12-12 draw.

Even in defeat, there were definitely some bright spots for the Chargers. Freshman Jorga Hoover hit double figures with 10 points, while Lauryn Embleton continues to develop as a three point threat for the Chargers, as she converted on two of four attempts last night and was three of six in Thursday's game versus Glidden-Ralston. As a team, the Chargers had their best shooting night of the season, converting on 15 of 36 attempts from the field, good for 42%. While Hoover led the Charger scoring, Savana Fuller had a personal season best of 7 points and also led the team in rebounds with 7. Olivia Laabs and Mady Smith each had two assists. Beckman led the Panthers with 24 points.

Two evenly matched boys' teams squared off in the nightcap in a game that saw six ties and five lead changes and several runs by each team where one team would rattle off as many as thirteen unanswered points, only to have the other team have a similar run.

With the Chargers leading 9-2 midway through the first quarter, Panorama executed the first run of the game, scoring 13 consecutive points to take a 15-9 lead and then a 17-13 lead after the first quarter. With the score knotted at 21-21 early in the second frame, Caden Wardyn , Bryce Littler and Noah Nelson each scored two points to give the Chargers a 27-21 lead. Over the next two plus minutes ACGC built its lead to 37-25, with Littler knocking down a trey and Nelson, Littler, and Wardyn each hitting two free throws. The twelve point lead was the largest margin either team had during the game. At least one Charger fan thought his team was going to run away with the game at this point. Think again.

The Panthers narrowed the margin to 37-30 by halftime, went on a roll to open the second half, and held the Chargers scoreless for nearly six minutes, all of which combined to give Panorama a 41-37 lead with a little over two minutes to go in the quarter. Gracen Welberg netted 8 points during the Panther run.

All of a sudden the Panthers went cold, missing their last seven shots of the quarter. So now it was ACGC's turn. At the 2:15 mark of the third quarter Littler made two free throws to end a scoring drought that had lasted for seven minutes going back to 1:08 left in the second quarter! Those two free throws were the first points in a twelve point Charger run that spilled over into the final quarter of the game. Wardyn and Littler again led the charge, each scoring 5 points while Quynton Younker added a basket. The third quarter ended with ACGC leading 47-41, and expending it to 49-41 with 5:35 remaining in the game.

A comfortable lead one might think--no way. Jacob Merschman hit two treys on successive possessions for Panorama to make it a two point game at 49-47. After trading baskets, the Chargers lead was 52-49 with 2:45 on the clock when Malachi Peasley hit one from beyond the arc for the sixth tie of the game at 52-52.

With a large and boisterous student section cheering them on, the Chargers then put together the final run of the game, scoring nine consecutive points with Littler breaking the tie at the 2:12 mark for a 54-52 Charger lead. Younker, Littler and Quenton Spack closed out the scoring for ACGC before the Panthers scored a meaningless basket at the buzzer, and the Chargers came away with a 61-54 win.

Whew! I don't think the players worked any harder than this writer did to capture the prize last night. It was a fun game from a fan's perspective and no doubt a very rewarding one for the players. This game was significant from another perspective as well. In the two short years of ACGC boys' basketball history, this is the first time that the Chargers have been over the .500 mark. The season record now stands at 3-2, with a three game winning streak in tow. Nothing to sneeze at.

Caden Wardyn had a career game or the Chargers as he netted 27 points on 9 of 12 field goal shooting, including 3 of 3 three from three point land. He also led the team with 14 rebounds and dished out three assists. Littler also scored in double figures with 19 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, while Quynton Younker added 7 points. Nelson led the team in assists with 4. Jacob Merschman had 19 points for Panorama.

As a team the Chargers shot well, connecting on 18 of 37 shots for 49% and also made 5 of 11 three point attempts. Free throw shooting was a respectable 69% as the team made 20 of 29 attempts.

Charger mentor Jake Mohling was obviously pleased with the win when he said, "The boys played hard and it was good to see Bryce and Caden step up and take over when Collin and Younker were in foul trouble. They combined for twenty-two rebounds and forty six points. Panorama never gave up, but neither did we and we withstood all their runs. Match ups were tough as they were quicker than our bigs, but we made it work. Great way to finish the week."

After last night's game the Charger girls are still looking for their first win, as their season record now stands at 0-6, 0-4 in WCAC play. Despite the one sided loss last night, it needs to be remembered that last night's game is the only one sided contest that the Chargers have experienced. Before last night's game, the other five losses have been by an average of only seven points. Better days lie ahead.

With last night's win, the boys have improved to 2-2 in WCAC play and will continue conference play next Tuesday, Dec. 12 when they will entertain Woodward Academy in a boy's double header, with the junior varsity game scheduled for 6 PM. The girls' team gets a well deserved break from competition, and will resume play next Thursday, Dec. 14 when they and the boys will travel to Earlham for a 6 PM girl's tipoff, to be followed by the boys' game.

Girls Score by Quarters: Boys Score by Quarters:

Pan. 24 16 18 12--70 Pan. 17 13 11 13--54

ACGC 6 14 6 12--38 ACGC 13 24 9 15--61

Box Score REB Box Score


Fuller 3-4 0-0 1-1 2-5 0 0 7 Sargent 0-1 0-0 0-0 2-0 0 0 0

Laabs 0-1 0-0 0-1 1-2 2 0 0 Nelson 1-3 0-2 3-3 0-2 4 0 5

Smith 1-4 0-0 0-1 1-2 2 1 2 Spack 0-0 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 0 1

Embleton 2-5 2-4 0-0 0-1 1 0 6 Wheatley 0-2 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 1 0

J Hoover 4-6 0-0 2-3 1-1 1 1 10 Littler 4-7 2-4 9-10 0-8 2 1 19

O'Brien 1-7 0-2 2-3 0-2 1 0 4 Wardyn 9-12 3-3 6-10 2-12 3 0 27

Young 1-1 0-0 0-0 2-1 1 1 2 Younker 3-6 0-1 1-4 1-4 0 2 7

Carrick 2-4 0-1 1-2 2-1 0 0 5 Stowe 1-6 0-0 0-0 2-0 0 0 2

Sargent 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Meachem 0-0 0-0 0-1 1-2 0 0 0

G Hoover 1-3 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2

Caltrider 0-1 0-0 0-0 1-0 1 0 0

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