ST. PAUL The Prairie City Panther girls came up short in their bid to upset No. 1-ranked St. Paul as the Buckaroos used a second-half rally to come away with a 51-28 win.
A long drive did not discourage Panther fans from showing up last Saturday in St. Paul, and the crowd was loud and supportive early on for the Panthers.
Kailey Kell once again stepped up to provide seven rebounds and 7 points for the Panthers.
Shooting percentages were low for Prairie City, as the Panthers shot 34 percent going 12-35 from the floor, but failed to have a leading scorer above 10 points.
After a back and forth contest for nearly16 minutes, the second half turned dismal for the Panthers. The Buckaroos ran away in the third and down the stretch with tough play under the basket and hot shooting from the perimeter.
St. Paul out-rebounded the Panthers 50-35, with a 23-14 advantage in offensive rebounds, leading to 23 second-chance points for the Buckaroos as they extended their lead to double-digits in the third quarter.
Whenever the Panthers made a run to erase the gap, the Buckaroos countered with small runs of their own, keeping their lead alive.
The Buckaroos demonstrated solid team play and aggressive offensive rebounding, topping the Panthers in most categories in the second half.
The loss ended the Panthers hopes to continue in the state tournament.
Despite the loss, the community of Prairie City showed their support for the state qualifiers by guiding the Prairie City school bus home with a honking and hazard-flashing caravan of 10 cars.
The Panthers finished their year at 5-1 in league and 17-6 overall.