The Van Alstyne Lady Panthers dropped the curtain on their 2013-14 basketball season in Leonard last Friday night, going out on the wrong end of a 40-32 ball game.
Finishing with a District 12-2A record of 3-9 and a 12-17 mark for the season, Panther fans can be proud of the way the team competed to the very end. I passed that impression along to Van Alstyne coach Tim Bryant prior to the tip-off in Leonard and he was equally appreciative of the hard work his team had put into the season.
The Lady Panthers were hoping to close out the season on a positive note, but the Lady Tigers, still in the hunt for the final playoff spot, pulled out the win instead.
Leonard jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Carleigh Simmons scored for Van Alstyne on a drive to the paint. With just over two minutes left in the first quarter, Jayla Hathaway scored for the Lady Tigers to bump the lead to 8-2.
Van Alstyne came back with the final six points of the quarter as Emma Moreno dropped in a pair of free throws before Ashley Burts and Allison Hensley scored baskets to tie the contest.
Hensley had one of her most productive nights of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds to lead the Lady Panther offense.
A 3-pointer by Bryanna Hernandez and another Hensley basket put the visitors up by five.
Leonard answered with a pair of baskets by Chyenne Baker, one a 3-pointer, and the Lady Tigers reclaimed the lead, 20-16.
A basket by Hensley cut the lead to two as the teams went to the intermission.
By far the halftime highlight at Leonard was a visit to the concession stand. Hands down, the folks at Leonard win the district championship for culinary achievement. For those long-time Van Alstyne residents who were not at the game, think Billy Cook’s Quick Check menu, without the smoke.
The Lady Tigers, reminded of their postseason goals at the break, outscored Van Alstyne 12-6 in the third quarter. Moreno, who finished with seven points and nine rebounds, Hernandez and Hensley each had buckets for the Lady Panthers in the period. Hensley scored in every quarter of the game.
With the exception of an early basket by Simmons to start the fourth period, everything else for the Lady Panthers came from the free-throw line. The team made 6-of-12 in the quarter, not enough to cut into that third quarter advantage built up by the Lady Tigers.
That has been kind of the story of the season for the Lady Panthers. One quarter, or in some cases, one possession, turns the outcome totally around.
My hat is off to 12 members of the Lady Panthers, all of whom will return next season, for the hard work they put into this season.
Carleigh Simmons, Emma Moreno, Andrea Espitia, Maddie Horn, Hannah Smith,Ashley Burts,Raigan Servati, Hannah Fernandez, Bailey Allen, Molly Mayes, Allison Hensley and Bryanna Hernandez.
A large tip of the hat as well to Lady Panther coach Timothy Bryant who, after 25-years in the coaching ranks, has accumulated 457 wins on the court. Congratulations coach.
Van Alstyne 8 10 6 8 — 32
Leonard 8 12 12 8 — 40
VA: Allison Hensley 10, Emma Moreno 7, Bryanna Hernandez 6, Ashley Burts 5, Carleigh Simmons 4.