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Big third-quarter rally lifts Jennings to victory

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NORTH VERNON — Jennings County erupted in the second half to overcome a double-digit deficit against visiting Brown County on Tuesday night and hold on for 61-58 victory.

The Panthers (8-12) scored just a paltry five points in the second quarter and trailed the Eagles 24-13 at intermission before registering a season-high 27-point third quarter to stun Brown County, then added a 21-point final frame to seal the win. The triumph is the third straight for Jennings County, while the Eagles (10-8) had their three-game win streak snapped.

The Panthers also withstood a high-powered performance by Brown County’s Sasha Robinson, who scored 26 points and ripped down 13 rebounds. The 6-foot senior had a dozen points in the first half and maintained her high level of play in the second half, but it was her 3-point attempt in the closing seconds that bounced off the rim, enabling the hosts to celebrate.

“That was an absolute horrendous first half,” Panthers coach Carrie Manowitz said. “So we challenged the girls to come out in the second half with some energy and play hard, and I believe that was the hardest quarter they’ve played this season.”

Manowitz also asked her players to protect the ball after they turned the ball over 16 times in the first half, and they responded, mishandling it just twice while forcing the Eagles into nine.

Still trailing 36-30 midway through the third period, Jennings County made its first run, led by senior guard Kirsten Biggs, who paced the winners with 18 points. Her driving layup cut the Eagles’ lead to four, and her short jumper just moments later pulled her team to within a basket.

Biggs then stole the ball but missed the layup, only to have Emily Ertel follow with the putback to knot the action at 38. Still not finished, Biggs came up with another steal and, this time, dumped the ball off to Ertel for a layup and the lead on the scoreboard.

The Eagles would tie the action three more times over the next few minutes, but the Panthers kept their momentum down the stretch and combined key shots and crucial free throws to fend off the guests, who also got 12 points from Whitney Williamson and 10 from Tanner Chapman.

Biggs’ 3-pointer midway through the fourth put Jennings back in front 53-50 and her 4-of-6 effort at the charity stripe in the final minutes proved crucial.

Biggs also got help, as Baylee Kruger scored 10 points, and Mariah Kinney scored 11, including a trio of treys. Ertel finished with nine points, but lead the team with eight rebounds.

“Hats off to Jennings County for that third quarter,” Brown County coach Mike Harmon said. “They took advantage of some turnovers and got things rolling their way.”

Harmon said the Panthers’ physicality was a factor as the game wore on.

“They are a larger school and they have to play that way to survive with the schedule they have,” Harmon said. “As long as we could attack and push the ball we were fine, but we couldn’t match how physical they played.”

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