Strong Start Lifts Litchfield Over North Mac

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A strong first half powered by Carson Jackson's 14 points was enough to offset a sluggish second half as the Litchfield Lady Panthers claimed their eighth home win of the season, a 41-31 decision over North Mac. 

Jackson nailed three treys in Litchfield's 30-point first half and finished the night as the game's scoring leader with 18 points, but her contributions didn't end there as she added four rebounds, three assists and a pick. One of three seniors in the starting lineup, Jackson was a perfect 2-for-2 from two, 3-for-5 from three-point land and 5-of-8 from the free-throw line.

Absent from the starting lineup was Becky Painter, who was out with a bug. Painter averages 7.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Senior Kylee Kazenski put North Mac on the board first but Jackson and Pence hit back-to-back three's and the purple and white led 6-2. Carly Boden added two more baskets from inside and Jackson would close out the scoring for Litchfield with a free throw. 

Alli Kallenbach's field goal was the only other shot that would fall for North Mac as they had nine looks in the period but converted just the two, while their hosts dropped in four of seven from the floor.

The Panther offense hit on all cylinders in the second quarter as Jackson connected for ten points, including two three-point baskets. Cara Pence would add a triple and freshman Laura Boston came off the bench for four points. Maddie Diamond would round out the 19-point second quarter surge with a two point bucket. 

North Mac's 10 second quarter points belonged to Brooke Meador, their six foot center, who found her way to the hoop for three field goals and four free throws. 

Leading 30-14 at the half, the wheels came off the bus for Litchfield in the third period as they couldn't hold onto the ball and couldn't find the bottom of the net. The Panthers had seven shots at the basket and made none while turning the ball over numerous times. 

Cara Pence sank a single free throw and that was the entire offense for the Litchfield. However there was good news as North Mac couldn't get it done either as they too had numerous turnovers and got just four points from Kylee Kazenski and two from Kallenbach. North Mac was able to shave Litchfield's 16-point halftime lead to a doable 11 with eight minutes left to play.

On their first possession of the fourth quarter, North Mac would relinquish possession and Carly Boden would make them pay as she scored and the Panther lead was 33-20. Kazenski scored for North Mac and Litchfield's next points came from Maddie Diamond as she was fouled in the act of shooting and converted both free throws. 

Melanie Gist scored for North Mac and points 25 and 26 came at the free-throw line as Meador sank two. Cara Pence pushed the Panther lead to 37-26 and Carson Jackson added Litchfield's final four points of the game from the charity stripe and Kazenki's triple closed out the scoring for North Mac. 

Litchfield shot 37 percent from the floor (14-of-38) and 67 percent from the free line (8-of-12). They pulled down 39 rebounds, led by junior Cara Pence with 14. Pence also had nine points, five assists and four steals. Senior Emily Senjan grabbed eight rebounds and had two steals. Litchfield scored 18 of their 41 points in the paint.

In their last home game of the season, the Panthers host Roxana tonight, Feb. 6, in a varsity game only at 6 p.m. Seniors Emily Senjan, Carly Boden and Carson Jackson will be honored. 

February 3 at Litchfield

Litchfield 11 19 1 10 --- 41

North Mac 4 10 6 11 --- 31

Litchfield (41) - Carson Jackson 18, Cara Pence 9, Carly Boden 6, Emily Senjan 4, Laura Boston 4. Totals: 14 (8-12) 41.

North Mac (31) - Brooke Meador 14, Kylee Kazenski 11, Alli Kallenbach 4, Melanie Gist 2. Totals:  12 (6-10) 31.

Three-point field goals: Litchfield 5 (Carson Jackson 3, Cara Pence 2). North Mac 1 (Kylee Kazenski 1). 

Records: Litchfield 14-13, 2-6; North Mac 6-21, 1-6.

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