PREP GIRLS' BASKETBALL: Panthers cruise by Quasars 50-36ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth girls’ basketball team entered Friday’s game against Southwest Star Concept on a three-game losing streak. The Panthers hadn’t won since a Jan. 21 game against Westbrook-Walnut Grove and then proceeded to lose against Adrian, Edgerton and Hills-Beaver Creek.
ELLSWORTH — The Ellsworth girls’ basketball team entered Friday’s game against Southwest Star Concept on a three-game losing streak.
The Panthers hadn’t won since a Jan. 21 game against Westbrook-Walnut Grove and then proceeded to lose against Adrian, Edgerton and Hills-Beaver Creek.
But Ellsworth turned things around on Friday.
The Panthers defeated Red Rock Conference rival SSC 50-36 in their next to last home game of the season.
“All in all it was a good win for us,” Ellsworth head coach Ben Mettling said. “We’ve been in a little bit of a slump lately, in my opinion, so it was good to get going again.
“SSC played hard. They didn’t go away. We needed that because we’re coming into the end of the season and we need to be able to play a full game. It’s nice to be on the winning side. The last couple of times we weren’t, so we’re happy with the win.”
The Panthers were led by Amber Walkowaik’s 19 points, three assists and four steals.
Bridget Kramer added 14 points and three assists, Emily Timmer had nine points and 11 rebounds and Abby Drenth had 10 rebounds for Ellsworth.
Walkowaik had four 3-pointers on the night, and Mettling thought she may have had her best 3-point percentage of the season.
“Amber had a great game,” Mettling said. “She’s a good 3-point shooter and that showed tonight. She really stepped up. The last couple of days she’s been knocking down a bunch of 3s in practice, so it was good to see that translate to a game situation. I think she stood out tonight.”
The Panthers got their first solid lead of the night after going on a 9-0 run in the middle of the first half. With 6:46 left to play before halftime, Ellsworth led SSC 22-14.
But the Quasars stuck with their opponents the rest of the half, entering the break down by just five points (28-23).
However, Ellsworth managed to break away in the second half.
After Arianna Hesemann opened the half with a bucket for the Quasars to make the score 28-25, the Panthers went on another 9-0 run to make the score 37-25 with 12 minutes left in regulation.
Although SSC came within nine points (45-36) with three minutes left to play, Ellsworth held its opponent to only 13 second-half points, thus securing the 14-point victory.
“We did really well,” Walkowaik said. “I thought we played really well as a team. Our shooting was well tonight and I thought we had strong ball handling. We pulled through and got the win.”
Defense was the key to the win for the Panthers.
Although Ellsworth gave up 13 offensive rebounds to SSC — something Mettling wasn’t pleased with — the coach thought the girls did a good job of defending Quasar Courtney Place, who is a proven 3-point shooter and an overall offensive threat.
Place did lead SSC in scoring with 16 points, but the damage could’ve been worse.
Connor DeWall added 10 points for the Quasars.
Only four SSC players made baskets for the Quasars — Hesemann and Sarah Baumgard each had two baskets in the loss — so Mettling was happy with the Panthers’ defensive efforts.
“That was kind of the key coming out of the half, cut down their offensive rebounds because in the first half they had quite a few,” Mettling said. “Emily Timmer and Abby Drenth especially had good nights defensively. They sometimes get a hard time because they don’t pull down as many points. But they do a lot of the dirty work on this team and they’re really pulling their weight. They always work just as hard as everyone else.
“But I think all the girls worked hard on defense tonight. Sometimes the offense isn’t quite there, but defensively the effort they put forth is always there. That was obvious tonight.”
Ellsworth plays Red Rock Central on Monday in the Panthers last home game of the season.
SSC (4-16, 4-10) travels to Martin Luther on Tuesday.
Both teams have only three games left in the regular season.
SSC 23 13 — 36
EHS 28 22 — 50
SSC (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) DeWall 0-3-4-10, Place 2-5-0-16, Hesemann 0-2-0-4, Baumgard 0-2-2-6. Total 2-12-6-36.
EHS (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Kramer 1-4-3-14, Timmer 1-2-2-9, Walkowaik 4-2-3-19, Huisman 0-1-2-4, Drenth 0-1-2-4. Total 6-10-12-50.
Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad can be reached at 376-7335.