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Coach Michelle McNary said junior Hannah Edwards played her most complete game of the season last Thursday against Pana, but the Lady Panthers opened the game on a 6-0 run and never trailed in defeating the Lady Vandals, 75-38.
Edwards’ season-long goal was to earn a double-double, which she had missed by one rebound three times and two rebounds one time this season, and she finally reached the mark, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the loss.
“She worked so hard, and before the game I told her she needed to crash the boards four out of five times instead of two out of five times and she’d get that double-double.”
Edwards furiously did that throughout the game, including three offensive rebounds in the first quarter that allowed her to score six second-chance points.
Most of her second-half work was done on the defensive side.
“I think this was her best full game,” McNary said. “She crashed the boards and rebounded.”
In the second quarter, she scored four points in a 21-second span to keep the Lady Vandals in striking distance by cutting Pana’s lead to 33-22.
The Lady Panthers, however, used a 10-4 run to take a 43-29 lead with 1:43 left in the first half.
Sophomore Amber Bruno pulled up and made a 3-pointer 21 seconds later, but Pana closed the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 20-point lead into halftime.
“We were not in the game from the beginning,” McNary said. “You just could tell we were not ready to play, and a good team is going to take advantage of that. Good teams will bury you.”
Only three Lady Vandal players scored in the first half, with Edwards leading the team with 12, and Bruno (10) and junior Haley Wollerman (seven) also contributing.
Edwards picked up two fouls in 1.9 seconds toward the end of the first half, and at times this season, she has become less aggressive when hit with multiple fouls.
That was not the case against Pana, however, as the 6-footer made her presence known early in the second half by blocking back-to-back shot attempts in the first 1:30 of the third quarter.
Later, she grabbed back-to-back defensive rebounds.
“If she figures out that if she keeps moving, she’s going to get more rebounds and more points,” McNary said.
But those were the only highlights of the Lady Vandals’ worst quarter of the season.
They were held scoreless, missing 11 shots and committing 10 turnovers, while watching Pana take a 61-29 advantage.
The two teams met last Saturday in Pana, but Thursday’s game produced a far different result than Saturday’s 48-42 Pana win.
“(Pana) played a lot better today than they did Saturday,” McNary said. “They played tonight like they are the No. 4 team in the state, and they are ranked that high for a reason.”
Wollerman ended the Lady Vandals’ scoring drought, which stretched 11:22, with a 3-pointer with 6:21 left in the third quarter.
A little more than three minutes later, Edwards recorded back-to-back steals, the second of which led to her 14th points of the game. On the ensuing possession, she grabbed her 10th rebound.
McNary has waited all season for Edwards to display the aggressiveness she put forth on Thursday and said she hopes she will see more of it as the season winds down.
“I don’t know what else could get it going,” McNary said. “The harder she works, the better she is going to be.”
Thursday, Jan. 27
Points – Edwards, 14; Wollerman, 11; Bruno, 10; Morgan Cripe, 3.
Top Rounder – Edwards, 10.
JV – Vandalia won, 36-27
Top Scorers – Cripe, 10; Megan Godoyo, 10; Kaitlyn Kershaw, 10.