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 Lady Panthers Draw Shenandoah in Class 2A Sectional First Round

February 4, 2009 -  During senior night festivities Saturday afternoon, Lady Panthers Jocelyn Sturgill and Sabrina Hatfield both said their most memorable moment during their high school basketball careers came on January 23, when Knightstown beat Shenandoah for the first time since 1995.

Well, those two and fellow senior Natosha Hiner get the opportunity for a repeat performance of that accomplishment because the Lady Panthers drew Shenandoah in the first round of the Class 2A basketball sectional.

Knightstown won 49-34 when the two teams met on the floor this year, marking the first win for the Lady Panther program against Shenandoah since some of today’s players were in diapers. The Lady Raiders aren’t likely going to go as easily this time around.

In the first game of the sectional, which is hosted by Knightstown, Union County gets the honor of going against the highest-ranked team in the sectional, Hagerstown. The Lady Tigers sport the field’s best record at 13-3, are ranked in both polls, and have already beaten just about everybody in the sectional field.

Hagerstown is vulnerable, however. The Lady Tigers have split two games against Centerville this season.

The winner of the Hagerstown-Union County game will play the winner of the Knightstown-Shenandoah battle, which sets up a potential second round match featuring the two top teams, should the Lady Panthers beat Shenandoah a second time this year.

Hagerstown beat Knightstown in the season opener 49-36, but today’s Lady Panthers do little to resemble the early-season squad that struggled to find its identity.

Knightstown is riding high on a seven-game winning streak, is 13-5 on the year and has won nine of its last 10 and 11 of its last 13.

Centerville received the cakewalk draw of the tournament. The Lady Bulldogs are 11-7 on the season and are in the bottom bracket with Eastern Hancock (3-15), Lincoln (6-11) and Northeastern (11-6), three teams that they have a combined four wins against this season. The Bulldogs should have few problems advancing to the sectional championship. The big question is, who will emerge from the top of the bracket, which features three of the best four teams in the sectional field this year.

Should the Lady Panthers get past Shenandoah, they will play a Hagerstown team that has dominated most of their opposition this season. The Lady Tigers will present the biggest post position match-up problem Knightstown has seen since it played the Tigers in the season opener. Junior center Katelyn Lakes is a 20-point, 12-rebound per game, dominating post player who gives up little ground defensively.

The potential second-round match-up would likely be the biggest girls basketball game played on a Knightstown High School court in 27 years, dating back to when the Lady Panthers knocked off top-ranked Rushville before a packed house in 1982.

A win in that game could also set up the Lady Panthers for their first sectional title in girls basketball since 1980. But as every coach and player will tell you, in tournament play, you have to take them one game at a time, and that means taking care of business against Shenandoah first.

Just as 29 years is a long time between sectional basketball titles, the number 29 hasn’t been all that unlucky for KHS sports. Before class basketball, the Panthers boys basketball team went 29 years in between sectional titles, winning in 1958 and again in 1987 for their only two non-class sectional trophies. The football team advanced to the state championship in 1997 after 29 years of competing in the sport.

Since the sectional is being played on the Lady Panther court and the girls are playing their best basketball entering the tournament, anything is possible. The Knightstown girls and Shenandoah take the court Tuesday night at 7:30.



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