Panthers claim 1st district title since 2007

Christopher Tenpenney
Special to the Citizen

For the first time since 2007 and second ever in school history, Park Hill South is a district champ after defeating Staley 50-36 in the Class 5 District 16 championship game.

“We set out some goals at the beginning of the season and this was definitely one of them,” Panthers coach Josh Dorr said. “So, like I told (the team) we were able to accomplish our goals and I’m proud of the girls. It’s all them.”

This game was filled with runs, as neither team was able to take command early. Park Hill South started out fast, pounding the ball inside to senior Alecia Westbrook, who scored six of her 13 in the first period, allowing the Panthers to get out to an early 15-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Staley responded by starting the second quarter with a 6-0 run, erasing the lead and tying the game at 15 mid-second quarter. Staley adjusted to Westbrook’s early success inside and switched to a 3-2 zone. This allowed them to get back into the game while neutralizing Westbrook.

With Park Hill South clinging to a one-point lead and seconds left in the second quarter, freshman Jaidynn Mason swished a triple at the buzzer. This gave the Panthers a 22-18 lead going into halftime.

The back-and-forth style of play continued in the second half as Staley erupted with a 10-2 run to start the third quarter. Staley was led by sophomore guard Morgan Ferrara who scored 22 points in the game and shot an efficient 7-for-11 from the field. Ferrara’s offense and Staley’s 3-2 zone allowed them to take a 28-24 lead late in the third quarter and set Staley up for a potential upset.

Unfortunately for Staley, Park Hill South finally figured out how to attack the 3-2 zone and attack it they did. From that point on, Park Hill South outscored Staley 26-8, running away with the game on their way to the win. Park Hill South had four girls score eight.

It may have taken a little longer than Dorr would have like for his girls to adjust, but they did in convincing fashion.

“It’s a game of adjustments,” Dorr said. “It took us awhile. It took us until the second half to figure it out, but once we did it was good for us. Some other girls stepped up and did what they needed to do.”

Along with Westbrook, Park Hill South had three girls reach double figures. Mason had 12 and senior De’Jaria Guillory added 10.