By Mathew Brock

Pilot Staff Writer

After snatching the Sunset Conference league title from Toledo, the Panthers headed into their first match in the state playoffs against the Lost River Pirates, who defeated the Panthers earlier this year, 42-32. Things went better for the Panthers this time around, as they triumphed over the Lost River Pirates last Saturday at 42-34 to secure a place in the state playoff tournament in Pendleton.

The Panthers opened up a little slow at first but ultimately ended the first quarter with a 12-point run that put them ahead at 15-6. The run continued to 15 points in the second before the Pirates managed to end it with a two-pointer, but the Panthers kept up the offensive to stay moderately ahead by ending the half at 26-12.

The third quarter took a turn as the Panthers were only able to score a single point to the Pirates 10, going into the fourth at a narrowing 27-22. The Pirates tied things up at 29-29 halfway through the fourth, but the Panthers managed to bring things back with a glut of successful free throws and two-pointers as the dust settled at 42-34.

With their spot in the state tournament secured, the Panthers proceeded to conduct a special ritual for the occasion. As is tradition, each team member climbed a ladder up to the hoop to cut off a piece of the net as souvenir season before coach Chris Clark climbed up to remove the rest.

Clark was happy with the team’s offensive efforts overall Saturday, but can’t help wincing at having such a rough third quarter.

“You just gotta celebrate the victory. We don’t dwell too much on the things we gave back. It was a rough third quarter and we had trouble making our shots, but we made some decisions as a coaching staff to keep up the pressure,” Clark said.

From here, the Panthers travel to Pendleton to compete in the 2018 OSAA Girls State Playoff tournament, where the top eight 2A teams in the state will face off in a double elimination tournament. They will go up against the Monroe Dragons in the first round, which starts at 8:15 p.m. Thursday at Pendleton High School.