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Putnam County’s Daniela Pavlovich (left) and Carly Gonet celebrate as they bring back the regional championship plaque to their teammates following Thursday’s victory over Midland in the Class 1A Midland Regional title game. NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
VARNA — Putnam County junior Carly Gonet climbed the ladder at Midland High School with scissors in hand Thursday.
She reached up and closed the scissors on the net.
It didn’t cut.
Gonet kept opening and closing the scissors but couldn’t cut the net.
Finally, someone handed Gonet a new pair of scissors, and she finally cut out her piece of the net.
It had been 29 years since a Lady Panther was able to cut down a net, so the few extra minutes were worth the wait.
“I had a little trouble at first, but once I got the right scissors, it felt great,” Gonet said after PC beat Midland 40-32 to win the Class 1A Midland Regional. “I never thought I was going to be able to do that ever, and to finally do it feels great.”
Each of her teammates followed her up the ladder as the Lady Panthers celebrated their first regional championship since the 1983-84 season.
“I’m speechless right now because nobody ever thought we were going to be able to do it, and being the first time in almost 30 years, it’s unbelievable,” Gonet said. Gonet, several other teammates and team manager Claire Griffith teared up while hugging and celebrating after receiving the regional plaque.
“It was emotions coming left and right,” Gonet said. “We really wanted to win. It just kind of all came out.”
The Lady Panthers (24-4) advance to the Class 1A IVCC Sectional semifinals at 6 p.m. Monday, where they will face either Indian Creek or Hinckley-Big Rock, whose H-BR Regional title game was postponed to Saturday.
“We’ve seen Indian Creek. We played Indian Creek early in the year. They’re big and physical,” PC coach James Barnett said. “Hinckley-Big Rock, I’ve seen them play once. They have a nice post player and have a real nice guard. We have to prepare, devise a game plan on whoever it is and we have to execute and play defense.”
Defense and rebounding helped the Lady Panthers overcome a poor shooting night Thursday.
The Lady Panthers shot just 25.9 percent (14-of-54) but never trailed in the final 28:14 and led for the final 25:57.
“They’re not all going to be easy. They’re not all going to be pretty. We know that. We’ve had rough games,” Barnett said. “Playing a team like Midland that’s in our conference, they know us and we know them. It’s basically a rivalry game and they take stuff away.
“We didn’t shoot well tonight. We haven’t played in many of these types of games, so to come out on top is very good. I thought it was a good team win. No one person did all our scoring, no one person played all our defense.”
Putnam County limited the Lady Timberwolves to 27.2 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers.
The Lady Panthers also outrebounded Midland 44-32 — led by 13 rebounds from Gonet — and scored 16 second-chance points.
“It was definitely an off night for us (shooting) but the fact that we get the rebounds and have second chances to put the ball back up, that’s what got us in the game,” PC’s Daniela Pavlovich said. “I thought the defense was pretty good. We went over stuff because we knew how they play. We knew we have to seal the seams. We knew what we had to do and we did it.”
The Lady Panthers led 24-20 at halftime and extended the advantage to 33-24 entering the fourth quarter.
However, PC then suffered a long scoring drought, which allowed Midland to pull within three points at 33-30 with 3:46 left.
Following a PC timeout, Gonet drained a 3-pointer — PC’s first basket of the fourth quarter — with 2:38 left for a 36-30 lead.
“It was pretty big because I think that gave us all the momentum we needed to finish,” Gonet said.
The Lady Panthers sealed the win by forcing three turnovers in the final minute, including back-to-back steals by Stephanie Wilson that led to her making 4-of-4 free throws.
“I pretty much just watched the ball,” Wilson said. “I stayed low, anticipated what their next move was and then just got it and headed down the court and toward the basket.”
Wilson finished with 13 points, while Gonet added 11. Kaylee Kingen led Midland with 13 points.
Note: Pavlovich advanced in the 3-point contest.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_Editor.
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