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  • Keith Hjelle

Panthers "Foiled Again", 74-46, in Quest for State Berth

There was a television cartoon that ran from 1959 to 1964 called "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" which featured characters named Dudley Do Right and Snidely Whiplash. Dudley always had the upper hand over Snidely, which led Snidely to say at the close of each caper, "Curses, foiled again."

Snidely's admission of defeat was brought to mind as this observer watched the Panorama girls' basketball team lose to Cherokee on Saturday in the "game to go" to the state tournament. One cannot blame Panther fans if they uttered the words, "Curses, foiled again," following the 74-46 loss in the 3A matchup. For you see, this was the third consecutive loss for the Panthers in the "game to go." Last year it was West Hancock that ousted Panorama in the 2A regional final, and the year before Dike-New Hartford was the culprit. And now, Cherokee.

The loss probably should not have come as a surprise, as Cherokee came into the game as the top ranked 3A team in the state with a perfect 22-0 season record. But "hope springs eternal" when it comes to tournament time.

The Panthers stayed with the Braves through the first quarter, trailing by a single basket at 16-14. Payton Beckman paced the Panorama attack with eight points, while Angel Poldberg added four and Jaidyn Seller had two.

Things went south for the designated visitors in the second stanza when Cherokee put together a twenty seven point quarter. The Panthers didn't help themselves when they tallied just two points in the first half of the quarter. But it was a seventeen point blitz by the Braves in the last half of the quarter that blew things open. By the halftime break the Cherokee lead had swelled to 43-24. Beckman did her best to keep the Panthers close with her fourteen first half points, but no one else scored more than four.

The outcome was no longer in doubt as Cherokee is a team that would not blow a nineteen point halftime lead. By the end of the third quarter the score was 61-35. It was clear that Panorama had been "foiled again." As difficult as it is to admit, Cherokee was the better team on Saturday.

"We fought hard to the final buzzer against a very physical team," Panther coach Kylee Boettcher said following the game. "We were able to alter their play but they executed in other ways. This game was an opportunity for our team and we will use these emotions to propel our off season work."

Beckman led the Panthers in scoring with 22 points, while Poldberg also scored in double figures with 12. Sellers led the team in rebounding with 7, with Ella Waddle and Poldberg each coming up with 4 steals. The Panthers' shooting was off from what it usually is, as the team converted on 20 of 59 shot attempts for 34%. That includes included just 2 successful treys out of 16 tries from beyond the arc. Panorama converted on 3 of 10 free throw attempts.

During the current school year the Panthers were bumped up to 3A from 2A due to an increase in enrollment in grades 10-12. Panorama is among the smallest of 3A schools. Would things have been different if the Panthers had been in a 2A regional? Would Panorama fans have been chanting "On to state" instead of muttering "Curses, foiled again"? That's an unanswerable question of course. Still...

Score by quarter:

Panorama 14 10 11 11--46

Cherokee 16 27 18 13--74

Individual Panther statistics: (TP-REB-ASTS-STLS) Beckman (22-2-2-2) Storesund (2-5-0-1) Rishel (2-2-1-3) EWaddle (0-2-1-4) EPoldberg (12-4-1-4) MWaddle (0-0-0-0) Boettcher (6-4-0-1) Webner (0-0-0-0) Sellers (2-7-1-1) Welberg (0-0-0-0)

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