Panther dreams dashed in one-point loss
The Panorama girls basketball team fell behind an athletic North Union squad by as many as 11 points in the first half before storming back to tie the game and take a lead.
However, the Panthers couldn’t pull off the hard-fought comeback, losing to the Warriors, 47-46, in a Class 2-A state quarterfinal inside Wells Fargo Arena during the Girls State Basketball Tournament in Des Moines Wednesday afternoon.
It was the sixth trip to the state tournament for the Panthers and the first since 2013. They close an outstanding season at 23-2. The Panthers only other setback is an overtime loss to 1A state qualifier Springville, who is seeking a third straight state championship this week.
“Hold your heads up,” Panorama head coach Dan Druivenga told his team in the locker room after the game. “You had an overtime loss and a one-point loss ...not many teams can say that.”
Still, it hurts for a Panorama squad who had won 22 straight games and saw themselves within seconds of advancing to the state semifinals.
The Panthers had trouble stopping North Union inside early, while baskets of their own were hard to come by against the physical Warrior defense. North Union jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead and showed the capability to put the game away early in the first half. But the Panthers held it together and trailed just 32-27 at the break.
Senior Faith Powell sparked a 9-0 Panther run when she splashed a three-pointer with just under five minutes to play in the second quarter. Junior Bailey Beckman then scored back-to-back buckets before a shot by Nicole Rolfes knotted the game at 25 with 2:58 to play in the first half.
The Panthers scored the first eight points of the third quarter, grabbing their first lead of the game at 33-32 on a 3-pointer by Devyn Kemble with 5:39 on the clock. The teams would continue to trade buckets in a second half that had four lead changes.
North Union’s Samantha Hagedorn drove for a bucket to put North Union up 46-44 with 1:57 left in the game. The Panthers tied it on Morgan Johnk’s putback 21 seconds later.
With North Union working for a shot as the clock wound down, Chloe Lofstrom was fouled on a putback attempt. The sophomore sank a free throw for what proved the game-winning point with 17.2 seconds left. She also grabbed nine rebounds, including a big one when Panorama’s Beckman missed a jumper with seven seconds remaining.
North Union inbounded the ball after Lofstrom was fouled, only to see Beckman intercept the pass. But her long 3-point try grazed the front of the rim and fell short, enabling the tenth-ranked Warriors to escape with a victory in their first ever state tournament game. The Warriors earned their trip to the state court when Hallie Reese hit an off-balance desperation shot at the buzzer to knock-off defending champion Western Christian in the regional final. The Warriors (22-2) will play third-seed Cascade in Friday’s semifinal.
Beckman led Panorama with 13 points, while Kemble added nine and Hope Wilderman and Johnk each eight. Johnk also grabbed 10 rebounds.
“This is our first year at state and we were just really wanting to go all the way,” said Kemble, whose mother, Stacy (Smithson), played on Panorama’s 1990 six-player state qualifying team. “We had high expectations and it’s very disappointing, but we had a great season, we made it here. It was our (seniors) last chance and we did it, so I’m just really proud of us.”
Kemble, who will play basketball and run track at Northwestern College in Orange City next year, said it’s tough to walk away from this Panorama team.
“We’ve been so close as a team,” she said. “We’ve all just grown up together and played together for years. This (state) has always been what we’ve tried for and we’ve all worked so hard for. To be able to share this moment together is wonderful, and the experience here is just amazing.”
Beckman, who shared a hug with her veteran teammate after interviews in the media room, knows she has another year to play for the state championship. She also acknowledges, the graduating seniors -- Devyn Kemble, Faith Powell, Kellie Prince, Nicole Rolfes, Hope Wilderman -- leave some big shoes to fill.
“It’s hard to lose all these seniors because we are like family,” Beckman said. “I really hope we can come back again because this has just been a really great experience.”
Druivenga told his team to take their time in the locker room after the game.
“I knew this was going to come sometime,” he said of the ending to his team’s outstanding run this season. “You played hard enough ... stay composed, hold your heads up.”
“It was a fun season, you guys did amazing,” added Panther assistant coach Tim Lazenby.
Panorama (46)— Bailey Beckman 13, Hope Wilderman 8, Morgan Johnk 8, Devyn Kemble 9, Faith Powell 3, Nicole Rolfes 2, Ella Waddle 3
Three-point goals — Beckman, Kemble (2), Powell, Waddle
North Union (47)— Kate Anderson 7, Hallie Reese 8, Chloe Lofstrom 14, Breanna Anderson 2, Samantha Hagedorn 13, Hope Steinberger 3
Three-point goals — Anderson, Reese, Hagedorn, Steinberger
Score by quarters
North Union 19 13 10 5 —47
Panorama 10 17 11 8 —46