PRAIRIE CITY – The Panther victory bell rang out Tuesday, Feb. 21.

The 60-year-old-plus bell tolled to celebrate the Lady Panthers’ 39-30 home hoops win over the Triad Christian Lady Timberwolves. It was the first state game ever played at Prairie City High School.

Three days later, on Feb. 24, the Prairie City girls fell to 53-61 to the Powder Valley Lady Badgers in the second round of state playoff competition.

The game concluded an exciting season in which the Lady Panthers emerged in the High Desert League’s No. 2 spot. They had a 6-0 league season, 14-7 overall, and an Oregon State Activities Association power ranking of 19.

The Triad game was exciting, said senior Salona Mecham.

“The first quarter, we kind of expected them to jump ahead,” she said. “Then, we came back for the win.”

    Coach Penny Black called it “an outstanding performance.”         “The girls really looked poised and confident,” she said. “The support was overwhelming. People came from all over the county … and we were grateful.”         She said that, as expected, it was a fast-paced game.         “Triad got an early lead, but couldn’t hold onto it for very long. At one point we were down 11-2, but we trailed only by 1 point at the end of the first quarter,” she said.         The Lady Panthers had a strong second quarter, scoring 13 points and holding Triad to 4. Prairie City dominated, led by a 3-point shot from Amy Black, points off steals by Mecham, outside shooting by Krystin Packard and offense board put-backs by Kieley Williams.         “We came out in the third quarter knowing we had to pick up our game even more in order to not come out flat,” said Black. “We did just that. It started with a 3-point shot from Mecham, and 7 points from Williams.”         Triad guard Emma Vanover drew fouls by driving to the basket and shot 100 percent at the line, narrowing the Lady Panther lead.         “Our balanced guard scoring kept us in the lead throughout the fourth, giving us the win,” said Black. She credited Williams’ 3-pointer late in the period for securing the lead.         Amy Black and Williams each scored 14 points; Mecham had 12; Lindsey Stewart, 5; Kailey Kell, 3; and Packard, 2.         Powder Valley entered Friday’s game with the Oregon School Activities Association’s power ranking of No. 3, but missing their top player, injured junior Jessica Pedro.         “Coming into this game, we knew we would have a height disadvantage,” Black said. “Powder Valley was state runner-up in volleyball, so we knew what we were up against, but we were ready for the challenge.”         She said the Prairie City girls “were ready to leave everything on the floor – and they did.”         Despite a slow start in the first, the Lady Panthers fought for rebounds and worked to slow the Badger offense.          “We found ourselves in foul trouble in the first half, which sent the Lady Badgers to the line. They shot 6-8,” said Black.         Powder Valley post player Ali Abrego took charge of the boards and put-backs. “She stepped up and had a heck of a game,” Black noted.         Prairie City held the gap to 11 in the first half.         “Going in after halftime, we knew we needed to get some boards and take the ball to the basket,” she said. “We scored 21 points in the third quarter – the best third quarter scoring we had all year.”         Black said Williams had “the best game of her career that night.”         The Lady Panthers outscored the Badgers 15-13 in the fourth quarter and trailed by just  2 points with 54 seconds left.         “Unfortunately, we had to foul to get possession after Powder went into a stall game,” said Black.         Abrego made one basket and five free throws in the final 34 seconds, starting a final surge that led to Powder Valley’s win.         “We had some trouble with our shots. We left about 12 points out there on the court with simple little mistakes,” said Black of the game.         Overall, she said, the team had an incredible season.          “The Lady Panthers ended their season with no regrets, and we are ready to get to work in June,” in basketball camps, she said.  “Hold onto your seats. The Lady Panthers aren’t done yet. We’ll see you next season.”         Against Powder Valley, Williams led the Panthers with 18 points; Amy Black added 15; Kell had 7; Mecham, Packard and Stewart each scored 4; and Breanna Doty, 1. 

             

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