DOWNINGTOWN — It’s never easy to end a season with a loss but if you’re going to lose, it’s best to go down swinging.
William Tennent squared off against the favorite ninth seed Bishop Shanahan in Saturday’s opening round of the PIAA District 1 playoffs.
The Panthers hit Shanahan with everything it had, even jumping out to a 9-1 lead early, but in the end the Eagles stretched the Panther defense too and much and eventually wore down Tennent for the 60-48 victory.
“It’s the one thing I can’t complain about,’ Tennent coach Paul Veltre said of his team’s great effort. “We tried to get every ounce out of them and they played really really hard.’
After the Panthers 9-0 run in the first, Shanahan immediately responded with 13-0 run of its own looking like it was going to seize control early. But Tennent would not fold as it cut the Eagle lead to just one at halftime.
The Tennent second quarter was sparked by senior Angela Pomponio as she scored 10 points in the second stanza. After Pomponio’s big quarter Shanahan locked in on one of the Panther’s best scorers, limiting her to just two second-half points.
“I would like to think that (Shanahan) made an effort in the second half to try to take her away,’ Veltre said. “Once she caught the ball, they were trying to force the ball out of her hands.’
Shanahan started to assert its offensive prowess with Devon Adams and Grace Philips. While the Panthers were able to limit Adams’ scoring, holding her to 10 points but the defensives resources they were forced to commit to her became apparent later in the contest.
“We gambled by trying to protect the paint first,’ Veltre said. “We were going to play on (Adams) low side and have our help right behind her, get close and just force her to kick the ball back outside.’
Despite the Eagle offense wearing out the Tennent defense, the Panther defense did not fold and were able to get some buckets on the offensive end to keep the game at one possession heading into the final frame.
In the final quarter Adams and Philips helped ice the game away for Shanahan as they combined for 15 points, going 8-for-9 from the free throw line including a dagger three from Philips to finally extend the Eagle lead to double digits with just over three minutes remaining.
“We were running (Philips) down a little bit from the corner,’ Shanahan coach Fran Burbidge said. “She got a few shots from there and it just wasn’t the spot she felt comfortable with tonight so we kind of changed it up a little bit and tried to flash her at the top of the key.’
Although on paper Tennent should have been a huge underdog, after finishing just 7-7 in the Suburban One National Conference the tough schedule combined with heart allowed the Panther to go blow for blow with the Chet-Mont National Conference league champions.
“I’m sure there are great teams all over the place but we do have a concentration in the Suburban One of excellent competition,’ Veltre said. “All you have to do is look at the top 32 (teams in the district) and how many are coming from the SOL and also find out who is going to finish and move on to states.’
If there is such thing as a good playoff loss it’s what Tennent displayed on Saturday. With only two seniors being lost to graduation hopefully the performance will resonate with the Panthers this offseason.
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