A vigorous man-to-man defense and a 5’9” sophomore forward helped eliminate the Litchfield Lady Panthers from the IHSA Class 2A basketball regional Monday night, Feb. 10, at Carlinville in the tournament opener.
Katie Cox scored ten of her game high 18 points in the second half to lead the Saukees to a 42-28 season ending win over Litchfield. The Lady Panthers finished the 2019-20 campaign with an overall record of 15-15 and were 2-6 in the South Central Conference under the direction of Rob Corso, who completed his eighth year as head coach.
With the win, Pittsfield, who co-ops for girls basketball with Griggsville-Perry, earned the right to meet PORTA on Wednesday, Feb. 12, in round two.
Coach Jeff Shireman’s Pittsfield Saukees entered the contest averaging 42.3 points per game and after scoring just six points in the first quarter, they bumped it up to meet their average with 12 in the second, 13 in the third and 11 in the final eight minutes.
They scored one more field goal than the Panthers but found their pot of gold at the charity stripe as Litchfield was called for 15 personal fouls, which rewarded the Saukees with 13 additional points. Litchfield shot 4-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Becky Painter opened the scoring in the first quarter with a bang and it was 3-0 Panthers. Pittsfield’s first point came from the free-throw line as Cox meshed 1-of-2 at the 5:27 mark.
Painter picked up her second foul at 4:22 and Maddie Diamond subbed in. The 5’3” junior dynamo made her presence immediately felt as she boosted the Panthers’ lead to 5-1 with a running layup. Cox added two before Diamond got a steal and layup. Carly Boden’s foul put Chloe Lemons at the free-throw line and she was good for one.
With one minute left in the period and a 7-4 Panther lead, Litchfield turned the ball over and Cox’s attempt to tie the score from three failed, but she followed her shot, rebounded the miss and put it back for two to trim Litchfield’s lead to 7-6.
Pittsfield captured the first five points of the second quarter as Kayla Merryman bagged a triple and Cox had a defensive pick and a layup. Diamond answered with another steal and basket to keep the Panthers within two points with 5:44 left. Cox added two from the free-throw line as Carly Boden picked up her second personal and was subbed in by Laura Boston.
Trailing 13-9, Diamond again kept the Panthers in the game on a runner that dropped for two at 3:20, but the tide turned back to Pittsfield as Kara Williams connected from beyond the arc on an inbound pass and Lemons added an inside score to give the Saukees an 18-13 halftime lead.
The third quarter put the Panthers in a deep hole as Painter picked up her fourth personal foul and the Pittsfield defense continued to hound. Litchfield got one field goal from Carson Jackson and a free throw each from Diamond and Boden.
Cox was the catalyst to Pittsfield’s 13-point surge as she found an unobstructed path to the rim for six points and a free throw. She was supported by Williams and Lemons with two points apiece and Merryman with two free throws.
Trailing 31-17 with eight minutes to play, the Lady Panthers did not fold, but their five turnovers worked against their cause. Cox opened the quarter with a missed layup and Litchfield’s first possession ended with a five second call followed by a three-point bomb from starting freshman, Ellie Ten Eyck, her first and only basket from the field. A Cara Pence assist to Carson Jackson netted two that was answered by Cox who also freed up for a deuce.
Litchfield committed their seventh foul with five minutes left in the quarter and Eyck converted a one and one that gave the Saukees a 38-19 lead. With 4:27 left, Litchfield also enjoyed the benefit of the bonus and Jackson was true for two.
Leading by 17, Pittsfield spread out their offense and looked for the layup, which did not fall on a drive from Cox but she was fouled by Senjan and sank 1-of-2 charity tosses. Cox got another shot from the free-throw line with the same results and the Saukee lead was 40-21 with 3:15 left. Senjan scored her only points of the game from beyond the arc and the final basket from Pittsfield came from an assist from Cox to Ashley Waters.
Fittingly, the next four points for the Panthers came from Maddie Diamond, who hit an eight foot jumper followed by a steal and layup.
Diamond would finish the game for Litchfield with 13 points (6-of-10 from the floor, 1-of-2 from free-throw line), six steals and two rebounds. Cara Pence was Litchfield’s rebound leader with nine caroms, three steals and seven assists. Becky Painter finished with three points, two steals and a rebound.
In their last games as Panthers, Carson Jackson scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds. Senior teammates Emily Senjan had three points, an assist and a rebound while Carly Boden had a free throw and two offensive rebounds.
As a team, Litchfield shot 41 percent from the floor (11-of-27), 44 percent from the free-throw line (4-of-9), had 11 assists and 12 steals. The Panthers were whistled for 15 personal fouls. They grabbed 19 rebounds.
Pittsfield shot 39 percent from the floor (12-of-31), 71 percent from the charity stripe (15-of-21) and pulled down 12 defensive and 10 offensive rebounds. They had 15 swipes and committed 8 personal fouls.
Feb. 10 at Carlinville
Class 2A Carlinville Regional
Pittsfield 6 12 13 11 42
Litchfield 7 6 4 11 28
Pittsfield (42) - Katie Cox 18, Chloe Lemons 7, Kayla Merryman 5, Ellie Ten Eych 5, Kara Williams 5, Tori Waters 2. Totals: 13 13-19 42.
Litchfield (28) - Maddie Diamond 13, Carson Jackson 8, Emily Senjan 3, Becky Painter 3, Carly Boden 1. Totals: 11 4-8 28.
Three-point field goals: Pittsfield 3 (Kara Williams 1, Kayla Merryman 1, Ellie Ten Eych 1); Litchfield 2 (Emily Senjan 1, Becky Painter 1).
Records: Pittsfield (19-11), Litchfield (15-15).
Class 2A Girls Basketball
Monday, February 10
Game 1: #7 Pittsfield 42, #10 Litchfield 28
Game 2: #6 Hillsboro 50, #11 North Mac 42
Wednesday, February 12
Game 3 at 6 p.m. - #2 PORTA vs. #7 Pittsfield
Game 4 at 7:30 p.m. - #3 Carlinville vs. #6 Hillsboro
Friday, February 14
Game 5 at 7 p.m. - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4