Panthers win one at home and lose in OT in ​Harlowton

By: 
Wendy Ray
Special to the Outlook

Story and photo by Wendy Ray

The Absarokee Huskies travelled to Park City to take on the Panthers Tuesday, Dec. 20. The Panthers came out pressuring the Huskies, but they struggled capitalizing on the steals allowing the Huskies to remain neck and neck after one quarter.
It continued to be a back-and-forth battle the second quarter, sending the teams in at half Panthers up 23-22. The Panthers came out of the locker room on a mission; they knew they had to take advantage of every opportunity, which they did. The third quarter started with MacKenzie Verke getting three quick steals which resulted in 6 points. The Panthers outscored the Huskies in the third 12-2, the turning point in the game. The Huskies only shot 40 percent from the line compared to the Panthers 66 percent. The Panthers were lead in scoring by Verke with 12 followed by Shelby Kluth with 9. The final score 48-37.

Verke 12, Kluth 9, Branstetter 7, Ray 6, McMillen 6, Grabowska 4, Vandoren 2, Robbins 2.

Tough break in Harlowton
The next night the Panthers had to brave the cold and travel to Harlowton to take on the Engineers. The Panthers knew that the Engineers would present a challenge especially on their home court. The Engineers were first on the board with a drive from Martin for 2. The Panthers answered with 2 points each from Ray, Branstetter, and M. Verke to end the first quarter down by 2. In the second quarter both teams started shooting more from behind the arc. Lane from Harlowton had 6 from behind the line and Kluth and Verke combined for 9. This gave the Panthers the lead at half by 1. The 3-point shot was a factor throughout the game with the Engineers making 7 and the Panthers making 6. The third quarter ended with the Panthers down 2. A quick 3 by Kluth was followed by another from Verke in the fourth. That gave the Panthers a good boost, but the Engineers would not give up. The Engineers brought it within 2 with 37 seconds left, but fouled Ray who made both free throws putting the Panthers up by 4.
With 30 seconds remaining in regulation, Engineers’ Martin made a drive to the hoop putting in 2. The Engineers fouled quickly but the Panthers couldn’t extend the lead from the line. The rebound was touched by the Engineers before it went out of bounds with 14 seconds remaining. The Engineers were able to deny the inbound pass forcing a five-second call against the Panthers. The Engineers inbounded the ball and Lane took it down the floor and tied the game as the buzzer sounded, sending it into overtime.
The Engineers again scored first with a 3 from Wasson and a 2 from Lane putting the Panthers down 5. The Panthers answered with a 3 from Kluth. The Engineers were fouled with 54 seconds left sending Wasson to the line where she made the first, but the second was rebounded by Ray. Verke took the ball the length of the court and Ray went to work under the basket and put in 2 to put the Panthers within 1. The Engineers were sent to the line in hopes of the Panthers getting the ball back with enough time to score. The ball missed the rim allowing the Panthers to inbound the ball. They had just a few seconds to get down the court and get a shot off but the shot fell short as the buzzer sounded. Final score 48-49 in OT.

M. Verke 12, Ray 12, Kluth 12, Branstetter 6, Vandoren 4, McMillen 2.

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