NORTH VERNON — With four wins in their first five games this season, the Jennings County girls won four more basketball games than they did all of last season.
The schedule has gotten a little tougher since then, however, and Thursday night the Panthers dropped their fourth game in a row, a 68-54 Hoosier Hills Conference setback to undefeated Class 3A No. 6 Madison.
“They’re going to win some games this year,” Madison coach Willie Humes said. “They’re a scrappy little bunch. They kept fighting. Give them another year, and I think they’re really going to be pretty decent.”
Jennings (4-5, 1-3) jumped out to a 7-2 lead 2½ minutes into the game. The Cubs (9-0, 4-0) then erupted for a 27-4 run that gave them a 29-11 lead early in the second quarter.
“We started out slow, and we got some easy baskets and steals and got back in the game,” Humes said.
The Panthers answered with a 17-4 run to cut the lead to 33-28. Madison scored the final seven points of the first half and pushed the lead to 54-37 in the final minute of the third quarter. Jennings came back to within nine twice midway through the final period, but the Cubs held on.
“I was very proud of the effort,” Jennings coach Carrie Manowitz said. “We just weren’t smart all the time.”
Sydney Kirchner led the Panthers with 16 points. Emma Campbell scored 11 points, and point guard Kirsten Biggs added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“We’re still doing good things,” Manowitz said. “We’re still young in a lot of areas, but that’s no excuse. With our schedule, we just have to grow up and play.
“If we play that hard and fix a few of our mistakes, we’re good, we can play with the teams on our schedule and hopefully get over that hump and get a few more wins,” she said. “Like I told the girls, if we play that hard and good the next two games, we should be OK and go into Christmas with a winning record. That’s our goal.”