Panthers Back In Hunt For B South Title
Point Pleasant, NJ- Panthers gymnasium has played host to several big games over the years and tonight was another classic game. Several times Friday night Point Pleasant Borough found themselves in comeback mode and every time this young and talented group fought back.
Above the entrance to the building reads Respect-Responsibility-Pride and that was evident in the way the Panthers battled themselves from down and out to a 60-57 huge B-South victory over previously unbeaten Manchester Township. The Panthers played with Respect for the letter across their chest and the history that comes with wearing their school uniform. Each player on the court had a responsibility down the stretch and played to perfection. Nothing says Pride more than battling back from multiple deficits against an undefeated squad on your home court to capture the victory and put yourselves back into the division title race.
Junior Megan Hughes led all scorers with her back-to-back 30-point performance of the season. Coming of a heartbreaking buzzer beater to Donovan Catholic Wednesday night, Hughes dumped in 37 points and 5 rebounds in the defeat. Against Manchester Hughes started out quiet but woke up with a roar, converting on 3’s on four straight trips to end the first quarter. On the night Megan finished with 32 points 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Fellow junior Ally Lassen was the other dual threat for the Panthers having found her grove in the second half and finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds.
Point Boro’s head coach David Drew afterwards comment on the loss to Donovan and preparation for Manchester “the funny thing about the loss to Donovan the other night, I thought we played a great game but they made a great shot at the end to beat us. I told the girls in the locker room that night we have until we get home to forget about this loss and get ready for a tough Manchester team and if we play together we can put ourselves back into the divisional race.”
For Manchester who was trying to extend their first three game week streak over the Panthers and take one step closer to their first division title since the 2008-09 season, the Hawks were lead by senior Lyric Green who finished with a team high 28 points to go along with 8 steals and 6 rebounds. Fellow senior Anissia Fucci finished with a quiet 11 points and chipped in with 7 rebounds and 6 steals. Senior Megan added 11 points and 3 rebounds while fighting through an eye injury in the second half.
The Hawks opened up the contest on a 7-0 run but eventually the Panthers got on the board with a Jamie Morris layup with five minutes to play in the quarter. Manchester looked like it was about to blow Point Boro out of their own gym jumping out to a 13-4 lead with just over two minutes to play and then the sharp shooting Megan Hughes got into her rhythm and finished the first quarter at the buzzer with four straight three’s to give the Panthers their first lead of the game at 16-13.
Afterwards Hughes added “It was frustrating in the beginning trying to get an open look and credit to Manchester but then everything started to fall and I found zone.”
The second quarter Manchester regained their composure and leaned on Lyric Green, who caught fire in the first quarter and finished the quarter with 10 points and picked up in the second quarter where she left off. The senior hit the first two layups for the Hawks to start the second and regained the lead at 17-16. From there on the Hawks were firing on all cylinders and jumped all over the Panthers in the quarter finishing the half with a 36-24 lead and their largest lead of the game at 12.
After a halftime adjustment, Point Boro found some life inside and continued to give the ball to Ally Lassen who took over the third quarter with 7 points and 4 rebounds. But her presence inside resulted in Manchester having to rotate and second player in to cover left open looks for Hughes who finished the quarter with 11 points and Devon Wondolowski with 4 points. The inside-out game of the Panthers got them back into the contest and at the end of the third quarter trailed 52-50.
Afterwards when asked about the teamwork between herself and Ally, Hughes added “Ally and I have been playing together since we were young so we know where each are going to be on the court and really rely on each other.” Ally echoed the same “We have a trust in one another and it shows in key moments that we don’t even have to speak we know where the other is going to be, it’s a great bond.”
Turnovers and the lack of veteran depth for Manchester, who were without two of their key starters due to knee injuries in Dejah and Dakota Adams, started to show. The Panthers took advantage of the lack of responsibilities for those stepping up for the Hawks and created mismatch marks and open looks and fast break opportunities.
Manchester head coach afterwards on the loss of Dejah and Dakota added “absolutely the loss of two girls that have been key pieces for the team for the first 14 games was fealt in the sense of being one, but I believe in our bench and everyone stepped up tonight and gave their all.”
The fourth quarter was more of the same for the Panthers get the ball inside and drive for the basket and take the fouls. Point Boro went to the line eleven times in the final quarter and converted on eight of them, which was a big part of their comeback. On the defensive end they forced Lyric to dish the ball but cutting off her lanes their were open for most of the game. Defensively they held the Hawks to just 5 fourth quarter points and now baskets after the two minute mark.
With time winding down and just over a minute to play and the score tied at 57-57, the Panthers defense forced another Hawks turnover and found Megan driving to the basket for the layup and just their third lead of the game at 59-57. The next possession for Manchester was another mistake on a ball thrown out of bounds and with twenty seconds left Lassen went to the line and made one of two to increase their lead to 60-57. A last second attempt by Megan Euler missed the mark and the Panthers pulled off a come from behind performance and put themselves right back into the mix in B-South.
Afterwards coach Drew added “we are a very young team with just one senior and at times during the season it has shown as we get down in games do to turnovers but the leadership and pride these girls all play with is what keeps us in games and helped us pull out the win tonight.”
With the win Point Pleasant Boro tightened up the B-South race for the division title:
1st- Manchester (13-2 overall and 9-1 division)
2nd- Donovan Catholic (9-4 overal and 8-2 division)
3rd- Point Pleasant Boro (9-4 overal and 8-2 division)
Manchester controls their own fate with four division games remaining with Donovan Catholic, Pinelands, Jackson Liberty and Lakewood. Donovan has three games left against Manchester, Pinelands and Central. Point Boro has five games left against Jackson Liberty, Barnegat, Lakewood and Pinelands. It is still anyone’s division and will be a fun division to watch down the stretch.
|PT PLEASANT BORO|