SHENANDOAH – There was little holding back the Class 4A No. 8 Creston girls Tuesday night as the Panthers stormed into Shenandoah and dominated the Fillies for a 57-18 win.
From the jump, the Panthers held an advantage, getting the first six points in the game. Shenandoah’s first score came at 1:36 in the first quarter, cutting the difference at the time to 11-2.
At the end of the first, the Panthers held a 14-5 lead with help from 3-point scores by Rylie Driskell and Braelyn Baker. The margin was cut from a last-second bank shot from the paint by a Shenandoah attacker.
The second quarter was the finishing blow for the Fillies. Only two points in the quarter to Creston’s 17 saw the Panthers run away with the game with two quarters still to play. At half it was 31-7, and the margin did not grow any closer to an even ball game.
Tuesday’s win for the Panthers wasn’t as much as Creston letting some frustration out from Saturday’s loss to Lewis Central as it was Creston getting back on track and moving forward with their mission to a state tournament berth.
“This is basketball. You’ve got to react. You don’t have time to be worried about what happened before, and you’ve got to move forward,” said Creston head coach Tony Neubauer. “There’s a chance to see (Lewis Central) again. You’ve got to keep getting better and move forward. The goal hasn’t changed, ... I thought our kids responded well tonight.”
Leading in scoring for the Panthers was Kelsey Fields’ 17 points. Sam Dunphy was behind her with 12 points. Rylie Driskell and Braelyn Baker each connected from 3-point range twice.
Responding from Saturday with a crushing win over a Shenandoah team that struggled in a 56-23 loss earlier in the season on Dec. 15 was something Neubauer was liked out of his team, even with a “slow start” on offense in the first half.
“We just dialed back in. We could have done a bit better against Lewis Central, and we talked about that,” said Neubauer. “We talked about where we wanted to be at the end of the season and how we needed to get there. ... The defense was phenomenal. Offensively, we got off to a little slow start. ... Once we got rolling, we did a pretty good job.”
Neutralizing Shenandoah’s inside scoring helped keep the Fillies off the board early, allowing for the Panthers to score in transition and hit 3-point shots when needed.
Neubauer noted the matchup of Shenandoah’s Ava Wolf inside was something the Panthers honed in on and used their size to neutralize her.
“Their best player is their post. She’s a nice post, but we have a lot of size that kind of neutralizes that,” said Neubauer. “It puts a lot of pressure on places where they’re maybe not as experienced. That helps us, ... we take so much of what they do well away, and that makes a big difference.”
UP NEXT — The Panthers are next in action Friday night at home against Kuemper Catholic. Tip comes at 6 p.m. from Creston Community High School.
Creston 52, Shenandoah 18
CRESTON (52) — (FG FT PTS) Totals — 21 11-22 57. Kelsey Fields 6 5-9 17, Sam Dunphy 4 4-6 12, Doryn Paup 4 0-0 8, Rylie Driskell 2 1-2 7, Braelyn Baker 2 0-0 6, Bri Fields 1 1-5 5, Halle Evans 1 0-0 2. 3-point goals — 4 (Baker 2, Driskell 2). Team fouls — 12. Fouled out — none.
SHENDANDOAH (18) — (FG FT PTS) Totals — 5 8-14 18. Keelee Razee 2 2-2 6, Ava Wolf 0 3-4 3, Allie Eveland 1 1-2 3, Caroline Rogers 1 0-0 2, Brooklen Black 1 0-0 2. 3-point goals — 0. Team fouls — 18. Fouled out — Wolf.