BY RICK TEVERBAUGH
ELWOOD – The fates still seem to be conspiring against the Elwood Lady Panthers.
A quirk in their upcoming schedule and a severe bone bruise to one of their best players, junior Trinity Bryan, hasn’t kept the team from still making some small steps forward.
The steps were harder to discern on Thursday when the Clinton Central Bulldogs defeated Elwood 61-16 at John Ward Gymnasium.
The Panthers scored the game’s first two points, on a baseline jumper by Yzabelle Ramey. But they didn’t score again until late in the quarter and ended the first eight minutes behind 22-4. To their credit, the home team didn’t allow more than 15 points in any quarter the rest of the game against a team physically stronger and more skilled.
“What we are getting them to understand is commitment, which is about trying to get better in each possession,” said first-year Elwood coach Courtney Lickliter. “We didn’t find out until earlier today that we wouldn’t have Trinity. We had no chance to practice. She scored 20 points in her first game for us, and she defends to post.”
Bryan’s 20 points came in a 53-25 season-opening win over Phalen Academy on Friday, Nov. 4. The victory ended a 31-game losing streak by the Panthers. Bryan was then injured in Elwood’s 38-33 loss at Frankfort on Tuesday.
At halftime of Thursday’s game, the deficit was 36-6 as 10 turnovers blunted many Elwood chances to score.
“I told the girls at halftime not to look at the scoreboard,” said Lickliter. “That’s over. There’s nothing we can do about it. The second half was our chance to get better at the things we didn’t do well in the first half.”
Elwood scored four more points in the second half than in the first and allowed 11 fewer points. Those are the smaller things the team looks for.
Senior Kenzie Cornwell scored seven points to lead the Panthers, followed by Ramey with four, Darcia Dickey with three and Hayleigh Christian with two off the bench.
The Bulldogs had multiple weapons led by freshman Carly Davison, who scored 17, missing just four shots. The visitors had size and power in the middle from Bridgette Royer and Sara Parkison. Royer finished with 12 points, while Parkison added 11 and a game-high 10 rebounds. Samantha Adams scored 10.
The Panthers (1-2) are hoping that Bryan can return in eight days when the team has its next contest, a road game at Southwood next Friday. That starts a grueling stretch of four games in five days. The Panthers host Sheridan on the 19th and then go on the road for games at Cowan and Southern Wells on the 21st and 22nd.
“This is not ideal for us when we are trying to learn,” said Lickliter. “We are trying to get them to learn to take a scouting report and be able to use it. Now we have two of the next four games where we have no time to prepare.”