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Putnam County junior Carly Gonet (No. 10) drives toward the basket past Hinckley-Big Rock sophomore Jacqueline Madden during the Lady Panthers’ 42-30 loss in a Class 1A IVCC Sectional semifinal. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
Putnam County sophomore Megan Rehn (right) battles for a rebound with Hinckley-Big Rock’s Abbie Tosch (center) and Andrea Binkley (No. 23) while Putnam County junior Taylor Pettit looks on. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
Putnam County girls basketball coach James Barnett paused, took a deep breath and collected his thoughts.
After his team’s magical run this season, Monday’s Class 1A IVCC Sectional semifinal against Hinckley-Big Rock was just one of those frustrating nights.
Despite taking an early lead, the Lady Panthers played catch up for most all of Monday’s game as Putnam County never found its stride and had its season come to an end with a 42-30 loss to H-BR.
“I thought we played hard, but we missed some shots and missed some opportunities,” Barnett said. “But the girls never gave up and worked the entire game. I’m proud of them.”
Putnam County (24-5) took leads of 2-0 and 4-3 early, but the Lady Royals scored the final five points of the quarter to take an advantage they never gave back.
Still, the Lady Panthers stayed within striking distance and trailed 19-12 at half despite committing 14 first-half turnovers.
“I think a lot of the start was nerves,” Barnett said. “We seemed a little on the tight side, and you saw that not only with turnovers but also missed layups and missing wide-open passes.”
PC’s offense came alive to start the second half as back-to-back 3-point shots from juniors Daniela Pavlovich and Stephanie Wilson cut the deficit to 19-18 and caused H-BR coach Greg Burks to call a timeout.
“We talked at half that we needed to relax,” Barnett said. “We just told the girls that we had 16 minutes left and we didn’t want them to come in (after the game) wishing they had done something different.
“They came out (after half) and were more energized, attacking and doing the things we talked about.”
Unfortunately for PC, it was as close as it came.
A bucket from H-BR’s Abbie Tosch sparked a 12-4 Lady Royal run to close the third quarter to give H-BR a 32-23 lead.
The Royals pushed the advantage to 13 early in the fourth quarter and to as much as 16 down the stretch, thanks in large part to Tosch, who scored seven of her game-high 19 points in the quarter.
In addition to her 19 points, Tosch finished with 15 rebounds and two blocked shots.
“She had a rough game in the regional final and got into some foul trouble,” Burks said. “Tonight, she had a big night but the other kids also did an outstanding job of getting her the basketball inside.”
Carly Gonet had a team-high nine points for PC, while Pavlovich added seven points.
The defeat ends the most successful season in PC history since 1983-84, which was the last time the Lady Panthers won a regional title.
PC does, however, return its entire roster next season as it has no seniors.
“One of the things we talked about it in the locker room is it’s OK to feel the way they feel and they should remember this feeling,” Barnett said. “We return everybody next year, so I told the girls we can only get better. They should be proud of what they accomplished this year, both individually and for a program as a whole.”
Note: Hinckley-Big Rock will meet Annawan at 7:30 p.m. Thursday for the Class 1A IVCC Sectional championship. Annawan — the No. 2-ranked team in Class 1A — beat Newark 46-21 in Monday’s second semifinal.
Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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