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Panthers get payback over Bluejays; Place 1st in Riverton Tournament

Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Sports Editor

RIVERTON — Pana played against PORTA for the 2021 Riverton Lady Hawks Christmas Classic Championship on Thursday night, the Panthers took down the defending champions with a final score of 44-33. Pana’s victory over Bluejays gave them the first place nod and the teams first tournament in two years.

“We haven’t had a tournament to play for in two years.” Head Coach Brent McKinney stated after Thursday’s win over the PORTA Bluejays. “We haven’t really had to play for anything so I’m just happy these girls got the chance to win a trophy and win a tournament.”

This Pana versus PORTA game was a rematch of the 2019 Christmas Classic where the two teams last met. The Panthers fell to the Bluejays in that championship, 51-48.

This year was a lot different for these girls.

The Panthers, lead by senior Jillian Hamilton and

junior Anna Beyers, dove head first into this matchup showing no signs of slowing from the opening tip-off.

The two key players both reached the double digit point mark for the most important game of the tournament. Beyers was the leading scorer for Pana making seven from the paint and one from beyond the arch notching a total of 18 points. Hamilton, looking as physical as she’s been all year, scored from down low and also getting it done at the line. She finished with 12 total points and made six of her eight free throws.

Senior Lainey Hicks, also added eight points to the Panthers dominance over PORTA. Senior guards Rachel Holthaus and Ellie Kuhn rounded out the scoring for Pana. Both left the court with three points apiece.

“PORTA is a good ball club and just by watching them a few times I knew they had the recipe that we struggle with.” Coach McKinney said “I’m proud of my girls. The Pana girls played hard and had a great tournament.”

The 19-1 Pana Panthers will look to continue their reign over the mid-west in 2022. The team will resume play against the Carlinville Cavaliers. The conference match will be at home on Thursday, Jan. 6, and tip-off will be at 7:00 p.m.

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