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Panthers pull away from Eagles in 4th quarter
A fourth-quarter run propelled the Maxwell High girls basketball team to a 41-32 victory against host Princeton on Wednesday in the season-opener for both teams.
The Eagles tied the game 24-24 with 4:46 remaining in the third quarter, but the Panthers scored 15 consecutive points before Maryssa Martin halted the run with a 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining in the game.
Neither team shot particularly well, but the early season rust wasn't a surprise to either coach because both teams feature several key starters who got a late start due to volleyball playoffs.
"We just got off the volleyball season and playoffs, so we don't have our sea legs ready yet," Maxwell coach Leo LaGrande said.
Maxwell has just two seniors on the roster - Ashley Azevedo, who scored a game-high 14 points, and Jessica Parra, who fills in off the bench - and a strong group of juniors.
"We have four kids who played last year as sophomores and they have experience. They gained a step this year, they look good," LaGrande said.
Jessie Otterson led the Panthers with eight rebounds and scored six points; Kaily McKinley had five points, five rebounds and two blocked shots; Jenna Powell added six points and four rebounds; and fours were wild for Shelen Boyes, who had four each points, rebounds, assists and steals.
Senior Gaby Rodriguez, and juniors Martin and Amanda Hansen, lead a relatively inexperienced Princeton team, but Eagles coach Nate Odom was encouraged by how his team played against a strong Panthers squad.
"We're figuring out how we mix together. I thought even though we lost this one, it was a pretty good start for us. Maxwell is a really good team, they've got some big girls and some really good shooters," Odom said.
Sophomore guard Arianna Ilharreguy and junior forward Julia Romo join the Eagles starting lineup. Ilharreguy is a solid defensive player and Romo has a nice shooting touch.
The Eagles went on an 11-1 run spanning halftime before tying the game at 24-24. Rodriguez began the run with two jump shots from the top of the key just before halftime, and Martin hit a 3-pointer and a jump shot from just inside the line, before Romo banked in a short shot under the basket to tie the game.
The game remained tied for more than two minutes until Azevedo gave the Panthers a one-point lead with a free throw and the game entered the fourth quarter with Maxwell up 25-24.
Maxwell opened the final quarter by making four consecutive free throws. Powell and McKinley, who were quiet for most of the first half, caught fire under the hoop. Powell scored all six of her points in the final seven minutes of the game and McKinley added a put-back and a block during the deciding minutes.
Martin led Princeton with 12 points and 14 rebounds; Rodriguez scored most of her 12 points in the first half and added five rebounds and four assists; and Hansen had six points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Both teams returned to action on Friday in the Princeton tournament and play again Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Downieville and Big Valley complete the four-team varsity tournament.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.