Midway through the fourth quarter of the Lady Vandals’ home contest with Pana, the Lady Panthers sent Anna Miller to the free-throw line in a one-and-one situation. Miller made both of those to give Vandalia a 46-45 lead.
Then, with the Lady Vandals holding a 55-53 lead, Pana sent Miller back to the free-throw line. Again, Miller converted on both.
She went back to the charity stripe just a short time later, and two more free throws gave the Lady Vandals a six-point lead, 59-53.
After a three-pointer with 8.7 seconds left in the game brought Pana within three at 59-56, Miller again went to the free-throw line, and again, she made both.
From there, the Lady Vandals’ defense held Pana and walked away with a 61-56.
“Anna was huge tonight,” Vandalia coach Michelle McNary said.
“Last year, she didn’t even want to touch the ball at the free-throw line,” McNary said, “and we worked with her on them at the beginning of the year.
“Coach (Bryan) Hosick worked with her and got her to the point where she’s got a fluid motion – it’s just catch it and go up with it,” McNary said.
“It was good just to see her want the ball,” she said. “I think she now feels that she can step up and make it.
“She had a terrific game for us, and it shows when she’s not out there.”
Miller missed only one of nine free-throw opportunities, and that miss was the only one in 17 attempts by the Lady Vandals, with Olivia Marquardt a perfect 8 for 8.
Avenging a loss at Pana last month, the Lady Vandals came out hot, scoring 12 points before the Lady Panthers put their first points on the board.
Vandalia led by as much as 14 in the first quarter, and led by 13, 19-6, when Madison Klanke hit a three-pointer. But, Pana, getting the ball out underneath their basket with .8 seconds left in the quarter, scored to get within 11.
Pana got within five, 27-22, with 1:05 left in the half, and within three, 27-24, on a basket 12 seconds before halftime.
The Lady Panthers outscored Vandalia 16-8 in the second quarter and 13-12 in the third period, but the Lady Vandals secured the win with a 22-18 advantage, including Miller’s eight free throws and two three-pointers by Lanee McNary, in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Vandals’ coach said this game was quite different than the loss at Pana last month.
“Tonight, we came out ready to play,” McNary said. “In the first quarter, our guards up top gave their guards a lot of trouble, trouble to see around them and get shots off.”
She substituted in the second quarter, to give her starters a break. “We didn’t play nearly as well, and we let them back in the game.
“I was a little frustrated at halftime, because we had a couple of back-to-back turnovers to let them get back within three at the half,” McNary said.
But, she was pleased with her team’s response in the second half.
“We could have given up,” she said. “This was a game that earlier in the year I don’t think we could have pulled out.
“We’ve had a lot of close games, and maybe this is a turning point, learning that we have to keep playing and play hard for an entire game,” McNary said.
At the end of the game, when Pana had a chance to tie the game, the Lady Vandals turned the ball over on a five-second violation on an inbounds play.
“I was a little frustrated, because both Maddy (Klanke) and I were calling timeouts,” McNary said.
“But, again, our defense came up big and was able to get a steal.”
She again put two freshmen – Megan Kern and Lanee McNary – into the starting lineup, and sees them as big contributors.
“The starting lineup I have out there gives us a better chance to win,” McNary said. “The flow of the game goes better.
“Anytime you have a 6-foot player (Kern) who is willing to work, and I think that tonight was one of her best games, as far as she worked and she banged in there in the inside.
“And Lanee can hit the three from the outside, and her defense is usually as good as anybody who’s out there.
“Just having those two out there, I think, gives us a little bit of a lift, and then, bringing those other girls in off the bench, in spurts, I think is better for us as a team,” McNary said.
Vandalia – A. Miller 2 8-9 – 12, Austin 0 0-0 – 0, McNary 3 0-0 – 9, Klanke 2 0-0 – 6, Marquardt 5 8-8 – 18, Megan Kern 7 0-0 – 14, Zimmerman 0 0-0 – 0, Molly Kern 1 0-0 – 2. Totals 20 16-17 – 61.
Three-point goals – McNary 3, Klanke 2.
Pana – Schoonover 1 0-0 –2, Butkaukas 4 0-0 – 9; Denton 5 0-0 – 12, Dudra 6 0-0 – 14, Holthaus 1 0-2 – 2, Thompson 3 0-0 – 8, Funneman 0 1-2 – 1; Ashcraft 2 0-0 – 6.
Three-point goals – Butkaukas 1, Denton 2, Dudra 2, Thompson 2, Ashcraft 2.
The Lady Vandals JV lost to Pana, 28-18.
Vandalia – Smith 2 1-4 – 5, Workman 1 2-7 – 5; L. Miller 2 0-2 – 6, 1 0-0 – 2. Totals 6 3-13 – 18.
Three-point goals – Workman 1, L. Miller 2.