GRANVILLE — The non-conference matchup between the Putnam County girls basketball team and Somonauk could have been ran on a track if R.M. Germano Gymnasium wasn’t available in Granville Monday.
Putnam County pushed the ball up the court after every rebound or steal with speed and well-placed passes as they topped the Lady Bobcats 50-33.
When the Lady Panthers (21-4) were forced to play in a half-court set, they executed coach James Barnett’s game plan.
“We knew coming in that they were going to play some zone on us as apposed to the man. We just knew we had to spread the floor and we had to utilize that middle man whether to score or to sink that zone back in and then be able to cut off of it,” Barnett said.
PC outscored Somonauk 17-7 in the first quarter because of the spread the defense strategy, steals for easy fast break layups and offensive rebounding.
Four Lady Panthers had five or more rebounds. Juniors Stephanie Wilson had nine boards , Daniela Pavlovich added eight, and Carly Gonet and Taylor Pettit finished with five.
“I thought the best thing was that we were patient,” Barnett said. “We were using the reverses well and we were getting the shots that we wanted. We hit the offensive boards extremely well-we had nine offensive boards in the first half. Anytime you have almost double digit offensive boards, you’re in good shape to win a game.”
Sophomore guard Megan Rehn and Pavlovich led the intense pressure PC defense as they finished with six and four takeaways. The starting backcourt duo had ten of the Lady Panthers 13 steals on the game.
The Lady Panthers bettered their first quarter performance by one point as they outscored the Lady Bobcats for the second consecutive quarter, 18-14.
Somonauk’s 14 in the second was the only quarter it scored in double digits.
“They were beating us down the court, so we had to get back (on defense) quicker in the second half,” Wilson said. “When we could beat them back, we were able to get a stop and score points. We were able to execute on both sides of the court to stay in front.”
Once the second half hit, the PC offense didn’t. The high volume of points scored in the first half dwindled down to 10 and five in the second half as the shots that fell in the first 16 minutes of play, were no longer falling.
Barnett was thankful his team put defense first as it held Somonauk to four points in the third quarter and eight in the fourth.
“Like I’ve talked about all year, defense is where we hang our hat,” Barnett said. “When our offensive struggles to score like it did in the second half, our defense steps up even more. We gave up 21 points in the first half and only 12 in the second.”
Wilson led the team with a game high 14 points, Pavlovich scored 12 and junior Venessa Voss added 10.
PC’s home game against DePue Thursday is the last regular season game before they begin the Class 1A Midland Regional Feb. 5. The No. 1 seeded Lady Panthers will play the winner of the tournament’s opening game between No. 4 Henry and No. 5 DePue.
The team has a record of 21-4 to earn the top seed even though Barnett is a first-year coach and there isn’t a single senior on the roster.
“The success that we’ve had — we’re better off than where I thought we’d be — but I thought we would have success this year,” Barnett said. “For the girls, it’s showing them from day one when I told them ‘if we do all the little things that I ask of them, then the big picture just falls into place.’ That’s what’s happened this year and it’s a testament to their hard work and putting up with me for the last three months.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.