The Herald Bulletin

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February 6, 2013

Panthers advance; Argylls, Tigers fall at M-G

FAIRMOUNT, Ind. — The Madison-Grant sectional had three area girls basketball teams facing off Tuesday night, but only one remained standing at the end of the day. Elwood staved off a pesky Madison-Grant team 42-37, and a rough third quarter ended Alexandria’s season as it dropped a 59-40 game to Tipton.

The Panthers and host Madison-Grant started things off, and it looked like Elwood was going to run away with the game as it led 13-4 after the first quarter and 19-9 at the half. But the Argylls outscored their Central Indiana Conference foe 28-23 in the final 16 minutes to make the game interesting.

Panthers coach Tom Kessinger said there might have been some postseason nerves in the first-round matchup, but he also credited Madison-Grant and its pesky style of play.

“It (is) a little bit,” he said of the nerves. “It’s a good game to get out of the way. Madison-Grant, they’re going to play tough. It’s their home court. They’re not going to go out lightly, and they proved it. They were very scrappy, very physical, but it’s a good first-rounder for us. (We’re) ready for Friday now.”

Kessinger, in his first sectional as a coach, said it doesn’t matter how you win as long as you survive to play another day.

“Sectional, it doesn’t matter if you win by one or 20 as long as you get to play the next night,” he said. “This is my first time as a coach, but you claw and scratch and you find ways to win no matter what it takes, as long as you come out one point ahead.”

The Elwood coach said his team had shots, but they just weren’t going down against the Argylls. He said he wants his team to get the ball down to the post a little more and not to fall in love with the 3-pointer on Friday against Eastern.

Kessinger said the Panthers’ first-round matchup typifies what sectional basketball is all about.

“Tight games, physical games, that’s how postseason is,” he said. “I told them that’s how sectional usually comes down to. It’s a more physical game.”

Alexandria withstood the test of the Tipton Blue Devils for the first 14:35 of the game, but then things shut down as did the Tigers’ chances for a win.

In the first quarter, the Tigers were knotted 15-15 with 1:14 to play before Tipton’s Macie Lively hit a shot with 30.4 ticks on the clock to take a 17-15 lead.

After falling behind 35-22, senior Shanna Kelly nailed one of her three shots from 3-point range to get within 10 points, but that’s when the Alexandria offense shut down. The Tigers went the rest of the second quarter and all of the third quarter without scoring. The drought finally broke on two freebies by Kelly at the 7:21 mark of the final period.

Carlee Wihebrink is one of two seniors playing for the Tigers, but she wasn’t able to finish out her career the way she would’ve pictured, as she was riddled with foul trouble most of the game. However, Kelly, despite the loss, was able to go out in style.

She scored 11 first-half points and finished with 17 points and four rebounds in her final game.

“Shanna’s just one of those kids that in a lifetime of coaching I’m not sure you’re going to get another one quite like her,” said Tigers coach Tina Bolte. “Just the fact that she had any kind of season this year was remarkable. I’m not sure anybody could go through what she did and be able to pull it together and play like she did this year for us.

“I’m just glad she got the opportunity to be a part of that. Obviously, what she does for us on the court, you can tell she’s our heartbeat, and she keeps us going, and she did a nice job tonight.”

Kelly had skin cancer and had to endure chemotherapy until about a month prior to the season.

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