JEFFERSONVILLE — The season came to an end for the Jennings County girls basketball team Tuesday, as the Panthers fell 61-50 to Jeffersonville in the first round of the sectional.
Jeffersonville came out of the gate firing, scoring the first six points and leading 17-6 after the first quarter. The opening quarter was a blow from which the Panthers were never able to recover.
“It came down to the first half, just not being ready from the beginning,” Jennings coach Carrie Manowitz said. “They put a lot of pressure on themselves. We kind of switched roles. We were expected to win after spending so many years as the underdog.”
After falling behind early, the Panthers (16-6) began to get away from their strength — getting the ball down low to senior Baylee Krueger. Krueger finished with 16 points, but against the undersized Red Devil defense she was not nearly involved as she could have been.
Instead, Jennings fired non-stop 3-point attempts. Some were made, but most were not.
“We played like we had to win it all in one possession,” Manowitz said. “The girls put a ton of pressure on themselves, and it showed. They were trying to do everything instead of what got them here. We didn’t work very well as a team tonight.
“Shooting 3s was not any part of our game plan at all,” she said. “Every time Baylee touched it in the middle, she was either fouled or scored. That’s what got us to this point this year – we’ve had a great year. Our offense went through Baylee when we did well, and tonight we got away from that.”
After trailing by as many as 15, at 45-30, early in the fourth, the Panthers did start making some shots. A furious 9-0 stretch with under two minutes to go brought Jennings back to within 54-50.
“We picked up our defensive intensity, and we had more urgency,” Manowitz said. “We took better shots. In the first half, we didn’t get any reversals, and we didn’t even look inside. In the second half, we did get a few touches for Bailey, and we got the ball reversed some. We made them play defense.”
But Jeffersonville (14-10) settled back down, and the Panther shots stopped going in. The Red Devils scored the last seven points, bringing the final score to 61-50.
Sophomore Sidney Gerkin was the one Panther who was able to find some success from outside. She scored 21, knocking down five 3-pointers. But inefficient shooting from long range doomed Gerkin and her teammates.
Even with the first-round loss, the Panthers have improved significantly in the time that Krueger has been a presence underneath.
“They’ve worked so hard to get better,” Manowitz said. “To go from 0-21 to 16-6 in four years, I’m very proud of their efforts. That’s what makes it hurt even more.”