LITHIA — After a 63-52 win over Newsome last month, Plant had a chance to virtually secure the top seed in Class 8A, District 7. But the Wolves slammed the door in the Panthers’ faces Tuesday, rolling to a 59-33 victory at home.
“We knew we had to come out and win tonight,” Newsome senior guard KK Smith said.
After falling behind 5-0, the Wolves stormed back with a 16-2 run that ended the first period. Newsome coach Sara Seelbach unleashed a smothering fullcourt press the Panthers had no answer for. The press produced 12 steals and took the Panthers out of rhythm on offense.
Smith led the effort, nabbing four of the steals, four rebounds, a blocked shot and a game-high 20 points.
“I love running the press,” Smith said. “The thrill of stealing the ball is just amazing.”
The Panthers tried to respond by making quick passes to move the ball up the floor but even when they got past the press, Newsome was quick to get back on defense.
The early run dictated the pace of the game and helped the Wolves (9-3, 4-1) to a 32-21 halftime lead. The Panthers beat the press once in the third quarter to draw within 36-25, but junior guard Lauren Boerger (20 points, three rebounds, two steals, one block, one assist), made a 3-pointer to extinguish any hope of a comeback.
The Panthers countered with a fullcourt press of their own but it was ineffective at stemming the tide. The lone bright spot for Plant (9-4, 4-1) was a 10-point, two-assist, two-steal night from junior guard Krista Brady.
“We play our best basketball in transition and on fastbreak steals,” Seelbach said. “Losing that close one at Plant really motivated the girls tonight.”