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Brink Has Big Night For Panama

Freshman Scores 23 As Panthers Top Wildcats

Panama’s Mandy Brink dribbles past Sherman’s Hayden Fisher during CCAA Division 2 West girls basketball in Sherman on Tuesday. P-J photo by Cameron Hurst

SHERMAN — Emily Eckwahl admitted that her Sherman girls basketball team tends to start slow.

“Teams come out with big pressure and it takes us all quarter for us to adjust,” the Wildcats head coach said regarding her team’s 29-9 first-quarter deficit against Panama on Tuesday night.

“I just wanted to remind the girls at halftime that they needed to settle into what we know how to do well,” she said. “We just wanted to battle back one possession at a time.”

Eckwahl’s team responded, holding the Panthers to just eight points in the second quarter and bringing the game to within 11 in the fourth.

But, the early deficit was too much for the Wildcats to overcome and Panama used clutch free throws late in the fourth quarter to fend off the comeback in a 66-53 Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 2 West victory.

Panama’s Kylie Schnars defends Sherman’s Maggie Myers during Tuesday’s CCAA Division 2 West girls basketball game in Sherman. P-J photo by Cameron Hurst

“We knew what we were up against,” Panama coach Jeff Angeletti said after the victory. “We knew this was going to be a battle. We wanted to pressure them a little bit … but in the second half, we got away from that. They lived up to the bill, took the pressure and said, ‘OK, we got you on this’ and they did in the third and fourth quarter.”

Freshman Mandy Brink started fast for Panama, scoring 16 of her game-high 23 points in the first half to help give the Panthers a 43-22 lead at halftime.

But Sherman kept clawing back as Amaya Lewczyk and MacKenzie Gratto, who finished with 20 and 13 points, respectively, helped narrow the Wildcats’ deficit to 51-36 heading into the fourth quarter, before a 2-pointer by Madeline Luden cut Panama’s lead to 11 with 3:06 left in the game.

“Our offense works a lot better when we get a lot of people involved,” Eckwahl said of the second-half offense. “We moved the ball a little bit around, inside, outside and we started to do that a lot more in the second half.”

Up 58-47, Angeletti used a timeout to calm his team.

“I just told them, there’s not an 11-point basket,” he said. “All we needed to do is go and put the ball in the basket.”

The Panthers answered the call, getting to the foul line after a 3-pointer by Kylee Odell with 1:40 left in the game forced the Wildcats to start fouling.

“We just weren’t doing things that we normally take care of business with. I think it would have given us a 16- to 18-point cushion. We didn’t finish. Give them all the credit in the world for their defense, but we have to make those layups.”

“To come back against a team that is that well-coached is a good nod to my girls and what they are capable of,” Eckwahl noted, lauding the skill level of the league.

“Our league is always a fun one,” she added. “We have a lot of teams that could win any night and just to be a contender with Panama is an honor and fun. Just to be in the conversation is pretty cool.”

Angeletti, meanwhile, was just pleased to leave Mel Swanson Court with one of his team’s most hard-fought victories of the year.

“(Sherman) is the real deal and this is a hard place to play,” Angeletti said, referring to the Sherman home crowd. “To come here and to go through all of the adversity, I couldn’t be more proud of our effort.

NOTES: Natalie Angeletti and Kylie Schnars each recorded a double-double for Panama, as Angeletti dropped 18 points and grabbed 10 boards, while Schnars dropped 13 and grabbed 11. … Lewczyk recorded a double-double for Sherman, also grabbing 10 boards. Maggie Myers finished the game for Sherman with 13 points.

PANAMA (66)

Brink 7 7 23, Lyon 1 0 2, Odell 2 0 6, Angeletti 5 6 18, Bailey 1 0 2, Lisciandro 1 0 2, Schnars 5 2 13. Totals 51 14 66.

SHERMAN (53)

JFisher 2 0 4, Lindsey 0 0 0, Myers 3 5 13, Lewczyk 8 3 20, Gratto 4 4 12, Sands 1 0 2, HFisher 1 0 2. Totals 41 12 53.

3-point goals–Myers 2, Lewczyk, Brink 2, Odell 2, Angeletti 2, Schnars.

Panama 29 14 8 15 — 66

Sherman 9 13 14 17 –53

Jayvees: Panama won, 44-18.

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