JOHN DAY With a packed student section on their feet, Prairie Citys Lady Panthers dominated the 1A-8 District Tournament and earned the top spot on the podium.
The Panthers defeated the Crane Mustangs in the championship round, 42-33.
Starting with a playoff game against Dayville/Monument, the Panthers had their sights set on the District Tournament crown. The Panthers advanced to the championship with commanding wins over Harper and Adrian.
In the title game, the 10-0 Mustangs jumped out to an early 14-7 lead in the first quarter as their perimeter shots found the mark repeatedly. Crane was shooting well from the field, sinking their first six of seven shots.
The Panthers managed to stay in contact, thanks to junior post player Kailey Kell, who put up a league-high double-double as she worked the blocks for 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
Crane continued drilling long-range shots, shooting 50 percent from behind the arc.
As Brooke Griffith banked in a shot from the left hashmark at the start of the second quarter, the score was tied 14-14.
Both teams post players fought for position in the paint, knowing that second chance shots were pivotal.
The Panthers outrebounded the Mustangs 47-25, leading to 8 second-chance points.
Prairie City led 24-19 at the half and didnt relinquish the lead the rest of the game.
Strong perimeter shooting gave the Panthers an 11-5 run and a decisive 35-24 lead over Crane.
With the championship on the line and both crowds on their feet, the Mustangs staged several surge attempts in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers met the challenge, continuing to hit long-range shots.
With seconds on the clock, the student section started chanting Its all over and the Panthers began celebrating. The buzzer sounded, and the fans rushed the floor to congratulate the new district champions.
The win marked the fourth straight postseason win for the Panthers, who fill the top seed in the district.
Kell 14 points, 14 rebounds, Amy Black 12 points, Griffith10 points, Lindsey Stewart 4 points, Jade Evans 3.
The Panthers shot 66.7 percent from the line during the first half and 85.7% for the game.
The Panthers outrebounded the Mustangs 47-25.
The Panthers will play in the second round of the State playoffs on Feb. 23 in Prairie City, time TBA. Their opponent will be decided after matchups on Feb. 20.
State tournament action runs Feb. 28 through March 2 at Baker High School.