By Mathew Brock

Last Saturday, the Panthers faced the Rogue River Chieftains for the second time this year with repeat results, scoring a 56-38 win for the Panthers to wrap up the team’s last non-league game of the season.

At 7-5 overall, the Panthers rank No. 12 in the OSAA 2A rankings as they enter league play against the Toledo Boomers this Friday.

Coming off of a tournament championship loss against the Santiam Wolverines at the SAC Holiday tournament in Salem, the Panthers girls were on shaky ground after losing Paris Newdall, a returning conference MVP, to an ankle injury.

The Panthers had trouble filling the void and coordinating the following week against Harrisburg, where they took a 43-26 loss. But after taking some time to readjust, things are looking better for the Panthers.

The Panthers established an early lead against the Chieftains and ended the first half at 30-19. Thanks to a strong offensive showing and a glut of turnovers, the Panthers were able to make further gains in the last two quarters and stayed firmly ahead throughout.

Top scorers of the game for the Panthers were Kayleanna Ridens and Brianna Seuser-Smith with 13 points each.

According to Coach Chris Clark, the key to the Panthers offense was maintaining high pressure on the enemy team to force turnovers and make as many shots as possible.

“We’re not a great shooting team,” said Clark. “Because of that, we need to maximize, our shots and when we manage to sink them the points will add up.”

While the Panthers are keeping the pressure on during offense, they are still working to carry that energy into their defense, where the team is still readjusting after losing an important player like Newdall, as well as Emily Turner, a guard.

“Our rotations aren’t very good right now, and part of that is because we have a lot of kids playing in positions they haven’t been in yet,” said Clark. “Against quality teams that look at that on tape, they look to execute and isolate us in that. We need to practice our rotations and how we rotate as a team.”

Clark hopes the team will be close to full strength when they face Toledo later this week.

“Toledo’s the team to beat...so hopefully we’ll have all of our kids ready and excited to get going on the season,” said Clark.

The Panthers travel to Toledo this Friday to play the Boomers at 6 p.m.

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