Vipers Hold Off Lady Panthers

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South County raced to a 28-11 first half lead over the visiting Panthers last Thursday, Dec. 16, and although Litchfield regrouped in the second half and outscored the Lady Vipers 13-11, there was just too much ground to make up as they fell 39-26 to South County.

Litchfield didn’t have an answer to throttling the Viper offense in the first quarter as Kenna Bixby and Maddie Mutch accounted for 14 of the Lady Viper’s 18 points, the majority of which were scored under the basket. 

Litchfield had little opportunity to mount their own offense as they repeatedly turned the ball over under South County’s pressure defense. A quick basket by South County was answered by a nice spin move around the defense by Laura Boston. Unfortunately, it would be the only points scored by the Panthers as their hosts notched an additional 16 unanswered points and led by the same number at the end of the first eight minutes of play.

Emma Walch warmed from behind the arc in the second period as she nailed the first of her three triples in the game and cut South County’s lead to 18-5. But the Vipers built a 25-5 lead on the strength of Eden Copelin’s two three pointers and Brooke Hermès’ two-point basket. 

Litchfield freshman Elise Walch found a seam and had a nice drive to the basket that resulted in a pull-up jumper at the 3:29 mark. The Panthers had an opportunity to add four more at the free-throw line but could not find the mark. 

Copelin added her second trey at the 1:43 mark and Mae Bandelow closed out the scoring for the Vipers with a free throw. Hailey Rentz put up the last score for either team with 28 seconds left and the half ended with South County leading 28-11.

Offensively, the third quarter was a snooze for both teams as Litchfield scored four points and South County missed all five shots they took, due in part to a more deliberate shot selection and a Lady Panther defense that picked up the pace and forced five turnovers. 

The Vipers could have added to their score at the free-throw line but the net also tightened and they connected on just 1-of-6 free throws. 

The story was almost the same for the purple and white as they were 1-of-5 from the floor and also turned the ball over numerous times. The Panther offense belonged to Emma Walch, who sank a much needed triple while Boston snagged a free throw.

She was the pace setter for the Panther offense in the fourth with her third three-pointer in the game, a two-point basket and three free throws. Walch finished the night as the game’s leading scorer with 14 points, but South County outscored Litchfield 10-9 in the fourth to cap off a 39-26 non conference win. 

Lily Braasch had a bucket in the period and Hailey Rentz added a free throw. Caroline Peters carried the offensive load for South County during the quarter with seven points, including a trey.

Statistically, Litchfield converted 9-of-38 shots from the floor and went 3-for-18 from three-point land. They converted 5-of-12 free throws, pulled down 34 rebounds, recorded six steals and had nine assists.

Individually, Emma Walch was Litchfield’s scoring leader with 14 points. In addition, she had four rebounds. Leading rebounder was Hailey Rentz with five offensive and five defensive caroms. Rentz also contributed three points and had a steal and an assist. 

Lily Braasch grabbed two offensive and seven defensive rebounds and recorded two defensive picks, three assists and scored three points. Laura Boston had five points, five rebounds, two steals and an assist. Elise Walch had two points, three rebounds and two assists and Carly Guinn also had an assist.

For South County, Bixby led the charge with 10 points and was assisted nicely by Eden Copelin, Mae Bandelow and Caroline Peters with seven points apiece. Maddie Mutch finished with six points and Brooke Hermès had a single basket. The Lady Vipers connected on 13-of-49 shots from the floor and were 3-for-15 from long range. They dropped in 10-of-23 free throws. They had 11 offensive and 17 defensive rebounds, had 18 steals and five assists.

The Lady Panthers will be idle until after the Christmas when they open pool play in the 16-team Riverton Christmas Tournament on Monday, Dec. 27 against Decatur Lutheran at 6 p.m. in Hawk Center. 

December 16 at Waverly

South County 18 10 1 10 39

Litchfield 2 9 4 11 26

South County (39) - Kenna Bixby 10, Eden Copelin 7, Mae Bandelow 7, Caroline Peters 7, Maddie Mutch 6, Brook Hermès 2. Totals: 13 (10-23) 39.

Litchfield (26) - Emma Walch 14, Laura Boston 5, Hailey Rentz 3, Elise Walch 2, Lily Braasch 2. Totals: 9 (5-12) 26.

Three-point field goals: South County 3 (Eden Copelin 2, Caroline Peters 1); Litchfield 3 (Emma Walch 3).

Record: Litchfield (1-12).

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