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Girls basketball: Panthers bounce back against Hillcrest Academy

Jan. 26—KALONA — Anna Hadley likes to keep it simple.

The Pekin sophomore is averaging a double-double this season for the Panther girls basketball team with 12.6 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. Currently, only Highland senior Sarah Burton is the only player in the entire Southeast Iowa Superconference with a better rebounding average than Hadley.

That simple approach in the post helped Hadley lead Pekin to a bounce-back road win on Tuesday in the SEISC north division. Paced by 15 points and 14 rebounds from their 5-9 center, the Panthers powered their way to a 30-23 win at Hillcrest Academy getting back on track after losing a second half lead to Cardinal in a 46-31 setback on Monday just north of Eldon.

"It was just like night and day," Pekin head girls basketball coach Davis Eidahl said. "This team (Hillcrest Academy) had two players that have scored 200 points. I think this was the best defense we've played all year. We shut them down pretty good."

Hillcrest Academy was limited to just two made field goals in the first half with the second coming on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Lydia Beachy at the end of the second quarter. The Ravens shot just 9-38 from the field and were forced into 24 turnovers.

"We knew coming into this they had two main players, so we put myself and Alex on them," Pekin sophomore Chloe Glosser said. "The rest of our teammates were in a triangle. They're really good about helping us. If we got screened and couldn't get there right away defensively, everyone else on the court did a good job of covering for us while not letting anyone else get any open shots. We got our hands on the ball a lot throughout the game."

Despite the tenacious defense, Pekin entered the second quarter struggling to get things going offensively as the teams remained tied at 4-4 through the first nine minutes. Putbacks by Hadley and Abby Guise were the only two field goals made by the Panthers in the first 11 minutes.

Hadley sank a free throw with 6:35 left in the first half to give Pekin a 5-4 lead. Over two minutes later, Pekin remained ahead 5-4 as the Panthers struggled from the perimeter with Glosser missing her first three shots of the game all from 3-point range.

"I asked some of my coaches if I should stop shooting," Glosser said. "They kept telling to keep shooting. They'll start to fall. It was encouraging. I'm really thankful for that."

The shots would fall at the right time for Glosser, who sank her fourth attempt from 3-point range with 4:32 left. It would be the first of consecutive 3-pointers for Glosser during a decisive 11-0 run for the Panthers with the second 3-pointer getting the shooter's touch off the rim to put Pekin ahead 11-4 with 3:56 left in the first half.

"My teammates don't care if I air-ball a shot. They don't care what I do. They just tell me to keep shooting," Glosser said. "They keep reminding me I'm their shooter, so keep going."

Pekin would not be caught the rest of the way by Hillcrest Academy after building a 15-4 lead late in the first half. The Panthers not only stymied the Ravens defensively, forcing turnovers and tough shots, but dominated the glass outrebounding Hillcrest Academy 47-35.

Hadley clinched a double-double on a basket from Guise with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, giving Pekin a 24-13 lead. Guise also reached double figures in rebounding, finishing with 12 boards in the contest.

"Abby was shy for the first couple of games, but she's really become more aggressive and has done a better job going towards the basketball," Hadley said. "It helps having more than one person that can rebound. I get stuck plenty of times behind people, but Abby and Renae (Eubanks) are always there to get the rebound if I can't."

Eubanks added eight rebounds on Tuesday against Hillcrest Academy (4-12, 1-11 SEI north) after leading Pekin with 10 rebounds on Monday at Cardinal. The Panthers entered the game fourth overall in the SEISC north division in team rebounding averaging over 33 boards a contest, a number that will go up after grabbing 47 against the Ravens.

"We work on a lot of drills where we go after the ball. We are good at getting back to get those rebounds if you're not shooting the ball well," Hadley said. "That's a big part of the game to give yourself more chances to score. Davis always talks about breaking the other team's rhythm. It's hard to stop a team when they get in a groove, so we try to break things up as much as we can."

After wrapping up the week hosting SEISC north-leading Lone Tree on Friday, Pekin (6-9, 6-6 SEI north) hits the road on Tuesday for a rematch with Louisa-Muscatine. Hadley scored on a putback at the buzzer back on Dec. 19, lifting Pekin to a thrilling 46-45 win over the Falcons.