After scoring just two points in Litchfield’s season opening loss to Staunton on Feb. 19, senior Cara Pence lit the scoreboard for 18 against Vandalia Monday evening, Feb. 22.
Unfortunately, the visiting Vandals outscored their hosts 12-3 in the fourth quarter and handed the Lady Panthers a 44-39 loss. The win marks the second of the season for Coach Michelle McNary’s varsity squad.
The strength of the Lady Vandal’s are the three seniors, Madyson Hill, Gracie Pruett and Bailey Stewart, and the trio combined to score 27 points against their hosts. Hill finished the night as her team’s scoring leader with 15 points, including two three-pointers. The remainder of the roster includes seven sophomores and two freshmen.
The senior duo of Pence and Becky Painter helped stake Litchfield to a 15-13 first quarter lead as Pence scored nine of her game-high 18 points in the period. Painter stepped out from behind the arc and buried two treys in the first quarter, however it was the only points she scored before fouling out in the fourth.
For Vandalia, Hill opened the game with back-to-back three balls while Katie Eckhardt, Megan Lupton and Anna Forbes added solo buckets. The quarter ended 15-13 in favor of the purple and white.
Litchfield again held the upper hand in the second quarter as they outscored their guests 11-8 and sailed into halftime with a 26-21 lead.
Junior Carly Guinn opened the quarter with two defensive picks and two layups. Coming off the bench, freshman Annika Rhodes had four points and Pence sank a free throw and had a solo basket. Vandalia’s eight points came at the hands of Lupton, Pruett, Stewart and Hill.
It was tit-for-tat in the third quarter. Anna Forbes cut into the Panther lead with a basket and the bonus, making the lead 26-24, Litchfield. Katie Eckhardt’s basket knotted the score at 26 and the Vandals seized the lead at the free-throw line after Stewart canned two.
The lead was short-lived thanks to Pence, who came up big with a three. Ball possession and missed shots became an issue for both teams before Hill’s basket broke the ice and put Vandalia on top 30-29. Hill struck again and Litchfield trailed 32-29.
The final seven points belonged to the Lady Panthers as Pence and Guinn had back-to-back steals that allowed Guinn and junior Lily Braasch to find the bottom of net and the Panthers were up 36-32.
The final period belonged to the Vandalia as the basket lid closed for the Lady Panthers, with the exception of a three-point make by Pence. Vandalia put four players in the scoring column led by Stewart with two treys while Eckhardt, Forbes and Johanna Shields accounted for the other six points to preserve the 44-39 win.
Cara Pence was 4-for-7 from the floor, 2-for-5 from behind the arc and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line. She grabbed 20 rebounds, had five assists and eight steals.
Carly Guinn finished the night with nine points, connecting on 3-of-4 from the floor and a single three point basket. She also recorded three steals and three rebounds.
Although sophomore Laura Boston did not score, she pulled down four rebounds, had four assists and had two steals. Annika Rhodes contributed four points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Lily Braasch scored two points, had two rebounds and a steal.
Vandalia finished the game shooting 47 percent from the floor and 44 percent from the free-throw line. Hill led the team with 15 points, followed by Stewart with ten and Forbes with seven. They were out rebounded by Litchfield 34-25. Litchfield shot 30 percent from the floor and 67 percent from the free-throw line. Collectively, the Lady Panthers had 17 steals.
In the preliminary game, Annika Rhodes and sophomore Emma Walch combined for 19 points to help lead the junior Panthers to a 40-33 win, their first of the season.
February 22 at Litchfield
Vandalia 13 8 11 12 44
Staunton 15 11 10 3 39
Vandalia (44) - Madyson Hill 15, Bailey Stewart 10, Anna Forbes 7, Katie Eckhardt 6, Megan Lupton 4, Gracie Pruett 2. Totals: 18-38 4-9 44.
Litchfield (39) - Cara Pence 18, Carly Guinn 9, Becky Painter 6, Annika Rhodes 4, Lily Braash 2. Totals: 14-47 6-9 39.
Three-point field goals: Vandalia 4-17 (Stewart 2, Hill 2); Litchfield 5-20 (Pence 3, Painter 2)
Records: Vandalia (2-5); Litchfield (0-2).