Lady Panthers look for third time to be the charm against Thunder
In the first round of competition at the Class 3A girls state basketball tournament in Hutchinson tomorrow, the Royal Valley girls basketball team will face a familiar foe, the Nemaha Central Thunder.
Tomorrow’s 3 p.m. game between the Panthers and the Thunder at the Hutchinson Community College Sports Arena, 720 E. 11th Ave., will be the third meeting of the teams this season.
The Panthers punched their ticket to state after beating Oskaloosa, St. Marys and Mission Valley during sub-state competition hosted by Silver Lake last weekend.
RV has a 15-7 record and ended the regular season fourth in the Big Seven League with a 9-6 record.
The Thunder defeated Hiawatha, Sabetha and Pleasant Ridge in sub-state play to earn their way to the state tournament. This is their second straight appearance at the state tourney.
Nemaha Central were the Big Seven League champs at the end of the regular season by posting a 15-1 record. Their overall record is 21-2.
On Dec. 15, the Panthers hosted the Thunder in Hoyt. The Thunder came out strong from the start and won 67-45 at that meeting.
Later in the season, the Panthers traveled to Seneca on Feb. 9. At that game, the Panthers had a strong start and were up 17-14 after the first quarter and led 25-21 at the half.
The Thunder edged past the Panthers in the third quarter after outscoring RV 12-6. In the final eight minutes, the Thunder poured on 21 points and kept RV to 12.
Despite that 54-43 loss, RV head coach Kyle Porter noted improvements between the two meetings.
“There’s no fear factor since we’ve already played them,” Porter said. “We played a really good first half against them at Seneca, and I think we know what it takes to be successful against them. I think it’s an advantage for us to play them again because it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season.”
The Panthers are the number seven seed in the tournament, and the Thunder are seeded second.
The Thunder, which are led by coach Hadden Hiltgen, placed fourth at the state tournament last year. One of their key players is Laura Macke, a 6’1” senior who will play for Kansas State next year. Macke scored her 1,000 career point during the team’s last meeting against the Panthers.
The Panthers have won five of their last six games and all seven of their losses this season were against ranked teams.
RV senior Tamo Thomas averages 13 points per game and junior Mary Broxterman averages 11.9 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Other teams in the tournament include:
* Seeded first - Garden Plain (20-1).
* Seeded third – Thomas More Prep-Marian (20-2).
* Seeded fourth - Haven (19-3).
* Seeded fifth - Scott Community (19-4).
* Seeded sixth - Wellsville (18-4).
* Seeded eighth - Caney Valley (13-10).
The winner of the game between the Panthers and the Thunder will play 3 p.m. Friday. The championship game will be played at 4 p.m. Saturday, and the third-place game will be held at noon Saturday.
Tickets are $8 for students and $10 for adults.
The last time the Lady Panthers made an appearance at the state tournament was in 2005, it was reported. The Panthers also qualified in 1986 and 1976.