With 29 seconds left in overtime, Litchfield senior Emily Senjan drained two go-ahead free throws to give the Lady Panthers a 40-38 decision over the visiting Staunton Bulldogs on Thursday, Dec. 5. The Dogs would get two more cracks at the basket after the free throws, but neither would fall and the home team captured their sixth win of the season.
The two teams met on Nov. 26 in the Turkey Classic at Litchfield and it was the purple and white by 16 in regulation, but Thursday night's game was a dogfight from the get go.
Turnovers and personal fouls plagued the Panthers in the first quarter as five of Staunton's seven points came via the free-throw line. Senjan opened the game with a quick three and would find Carson Jackson under the hoop for a bucket.
The next points came from Hollie Bekeske and it would be Staunton's first and only points scored from the floor in the quarter. Litchfield would get another two points from Senjan, while Jackson added four and Carly Boden had two to give the Panthers an 11-7 lead.
In the second quarter, Staunton's Katie Masinelli cut the Panther lead to two with a putback of her own miss, followed by a Litchfield turnover that was converted to Bulldog points to tie the score at 11.
After Carly Boden missed two free throws, Staunton's Haris Legendre buried a three for a 14-11 Bulldog lead, but it was short lived as Becky Painter answered from deep and it was 14-14.
Neither team would score again until late in the period when Staunton's Caidy Tuetken broke the tie with two free throws, followed by a layup from Cara Pence that again knotted the score at 16 with 1:07 left.
The period would close with a Jackson to Maddie Diamond connection for two and an 18-16 halftime lead for the Panthers.
Turnovers and fouls again reared their ugly heads against Litchfield in the third period and the Bulldogs enjoyed their biggest point production of the game by outscoring their hosts 14-11.
Trailing 30-22 with less than two minutes left in the quarter, Becky Painter was fouled on a drive to the basket, but could not convert the bonus. A Staunton miss rebounded by Pence resulted in layup and the lead was four. An opportunity to add two from the free-throw line did not happen but Cara Pence erased that memory with a big three ball that cut the Bulldog lead to 30-29 heading into the fourth.
The basket lid tightened up for both teams in the fourth quarter as each team would score one field goal from the floor. With a minute and a half gone, Pence again used her hot hand to find a three and it was 32-30 Litchfield.
Both teams would miss shot after shot and not another ball would pass through the net until Jackson converted one of two free throws for Litchfield with 1:38 left in regulation. Fourteen seconds later, Bekeske sank one of two charity tosses and the Litchfield lead was two.
On the next possession, Litchfield turned the ball over and at 1:08, Staunton Coach Corrie Allen called a timeout to set up a play. Staunton's Analise Best got the call but her shot missed the mark and was rebounded by Pence, but possession was given right back to the Bulldogs on a turnover.
With 18 ticks left Hollie Bekeske tied the score at 33. Maddie Diamond's last second shot did not fall for the Panthers and an additional four minutes of overtime was added.
Litchfield won the jump ball and got an early gift as Carly Boden scored on an uncontested layup, followed by a big three by Painter to push the Panther lead to five. With 2:05 remaining, Staunton senior Abby Davis scored her first points of the game from long range and the Panther lead was down to two. Following a Panther turnover, Analise Best tied the score followed by a tie up that gave possession back to the Bulldogs. Cara Pence rebounded a Bulldog miss and Senjan sealed the win with two free throws.
Junior Cara Pence finished the game with 10 points and 16 rebounds. Becky Painter matched her teammate with 10 points, which included the three-point basket in the overtime period. Hollie Bekeske led the Bulldogs with 11 points.
In the preliminary game, the junior Bulldogs beat the Panthers 37-31.
December 5 at Litchfield
Litchfield 11 7 11 4 7 40
Staunton 7 9 14 3 5 39
Litchfield (40) - Cara Pence 10, Becky Painter 10, Emily Senjan 7, Carson Jackson 7, Carly Boden 4, Maddie Diamond 2. Totals: 14 7-14 40.
Staunton (38) - Hollie Bekeske 11, Katie Masinelli 7, Analise Best 7, Haris Legendre 6, Caidy Tuetken 4, Abby Davis 3. Totals: 11 14-24 38.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 5 (Pence 2, Painter 2, Senjan 1); Staunton 2 (Davis 1, Best 1).
Records: Litchfield (6-2, 1-0); Staunton (1-3, 0-1).
Fresh off their win over Staunton on Dec. 5, Litchfield Coach Rob Corso's Lady Panthers entertained Springfield Lutheran Saturday afternoon in a game that was originally scheduled to be played in Springfield, however a conflict moved it to Litchfield.
Simmons Gym was occupied by the LHS wrestlers so Panther Gym became the game site and the purple and white found the smaller venue to their liking as they had one of their best outings of the young season and beat the Crusaders 47-30. The win marked the second within the week and their seventh against just two losses.
Against Staunton, the Panthers were plagued with turnovers and fouls, but such was not the case in Saturday's game as they were whistled for just seven fouls and kept their turnovers to a reasonable number.
The purple and white grabbed 29 rebounds, 22 of which came from the defensive side. Leading the team was junior Cara Pence, who had eight defensive and two offensive rebounds. Against the Crusaders, she contributed four points and two blocks.
Becky Painter was right behind Pence with eight defensive and one offensive rebounds. She dished out ten assists and had two steals. Emily Senjan led the team in points with 13 and added six rebounds and a steal. In the middle, senior Carly Boden scored 12 points. As a team, the Panthers shot 49 percent from the floor and 50 percent from the charity stripe.
Balanced scoring produced 14 first quarter points that began with a three-point basket by Carson Jackson, followed by a look inside to Boden.
Senior Emily Stoeckel gave the Crusaders their first two points before Litchfield would add four more from Jackson and Pence. The Crusaders answered with baskets from freshman Makenna Cox and Aleah Kirby and the Panther lead was down to 9-8. Boden's bucket added two and Stoeckel sank a free throw. With 1:24 left, Senjan nailed a three that was answered by Stoeckel's three and the quarter ended with a two point Panther advantage.
Litchfield outscored their guests 12-7 in the second quarter as the inside out game worked its magic with Senjan connecting for two treys while Boden dumped in six points from the paint.
The Panther offense continued to fire in the third period and their zone defense held the Crusaders at bay. Painter added five in the period and single scores came from Senjan, Maddie Diamond and Boden. Freshman Makenna Cox was the only Crusader to score with a drive to the basket for two and a free throw.
The Panthers maintained their 15-point edge in the fourth quarter and Diamond scored the last points of game on a runner for two. Again Litchfield would get balanced scoring with baskets by Senjan, Diamond, Pence and Painter while Jackson tossed in two free throws.
Litchfield will head to Carlinville on Thursday, Dec. 12, and host Marquette Catholic on Dec. 14.
December 7 at Litchfield
Litchfield 14 12 11 10 47
Spfld. Lutheran 12 7 3 8 30
Litchfield (47) - Emily Senjan. 13, Carly Boden 12, Carson Jackson 7, Becky Painter 7, Cara Pence 4, Maddie Diamond 4. Totals: 20 (2-5) 47.
Springfield Lutheran (30) - Emily Stoeckel 14, Makenna Cox 9, Kiersten Oldham 3, Aleah Kirby 2, Bianca Adubato 2. Totals: 12 (2-6) 30.
Three-point field goals: Litchfield 5 (Senjan 3, Jackson 1, Painter 1); Springfield Lutheran 4 (Stoeckel 3, Oldham 1).
Record: Litchfield (7-2).