Special to the Citizen
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — In a battle for Suburban Conference Red Division supremacy there was added motivation for Park Hill South. The game revisited an earlier-season loss, the Panthers only conference loss of the season and this time the result was different as South topped Truman 50-47 at Truman High School on Friday, Feb. 9.
The road victory for the Panthers (19-3, 7-1 Suburban Red) the No. 6 team in the latest Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 poll, followed a 65-31 setback earlier in the season to the Patriots at home.
“Tonights win felt good. Obviously it was a good-thing to avenge the loss,” Panthers coach Josh Dorr said. “It was a huge-win, if they won the game they wouldve won the conference outright. Getting the win tonight, helps us get the monkey off our back against them.”
The Panthers led from the early-minutes of the first-quarter, until mid-way through the fourth-quarter, before once again regaining the lead. They benefitted from a couple of noteworthy plays on both ends of the floor by junior guard De’Jaria Guillory.
The Panthers found themselves behind 40-39 with 4:43 remaining in the fourth-quarter, after Patriots sophomore guard Jewel Hart canned both shots from the charity-stripe following a technical foul on Guillory. However, the Panthers wouldn’t stay down for long.
Now, trailing 43-39 after a basket and a free-throw from Patriots sophomore guard Deon Monroe who finished with a game-high 22 points.
But, this was Guillory’s time to shine. On the next trip down the floor, she spotted junior forward Alecia Westbrook, standing by her lonesome at the top-of-the-key for a three-pointer and Westbrook swished the triple for three of her 8 points, drawing her team to within a point at 43-42 with 2:42 remaining.
After the basket, the Patriots attempted to inbound the ball against the Panthers press. That turned out to be a mistake as Guillory stole the pass and laid the ball in giving the Panthers the lead back at 44-43 with 2:38 left.
Guillory finished with 15 points.
“It felt great knowing our team was working together in tough-times,” Guillory said. “I just tried to stay calm and help my team make plays. This is a big-win for our team. We have lost to them the past few years, so I’m really happy for our team.”
The Panthers shot just 6-15 from the line in the closing minutes, but it was enough to hold off the Patriots, who missed a potential game-tying three, when junior guard Becca Gilpin misfired from distance in the closing seconds.
Westbrook, was there to secure the rebound and she quickly found Guillory, who was immediately fouled. Guillory split her free throws for the final 50-47, before a final-desperation heave from the Patriots fell short securing the Panthers a spot atop the conference standings.
“We were able to get the ball inside down the stretch and we played some great-defense,” Dorr said. “I just wanted the girls to stay collected and play their game. We did that and we got a huge-conference victory.”
The Panthers got off to a nice-offensive start thanks to five first-quarter by way of a 3-pointer and a deuce from junior reserve-guard Emma Beuerlein, as they held an 11-9 lead after the opening-quarter.
Beuerlein, continued her hot-shooting in the second-quarter as she netted 11 of the Panthers 18 second-quarter points on four baskets (three 3s) as she finished with 16 first-half points, aiding the Panthers to a 29-25 halftime lead.
The Panthers maintained their lead in the third-quarter, after six third-quarter points by Guillory helped them to a 37-33 advantage following three quarters.