There are certain events in life in which a person walks away from saddened because it's over. Perhaps it's a movie in which an actor/actress gives such an incredible performance that the patron does not want it to end. Sometimes it's a concert for the ages and the crowd does not want the performer to stop singing.
For me, this was how Friday night felt in Sulphur Springs as the North Lamar Pantherettes suffered a 49-39 season-ending defeat to the Canton Eagelettes. North Lamar ran into a bad combination Friday against Canton as they played a good defensive team but were unable to knock down their shots as well.
North Lamar started the game with a defensive intensity that caused lots of problems for Canton. Causing four straight turnovers to start the game, North Lamar's defense did its part. The problem was on the other end of the court.
North Lamar could not get the shots to fall either. North Lamar only had a Kylie Halstead free throw to show from those four steals. A Canton three-pointer and another basket made the game 5-1.
After the first quarter the score was 10-7 in favor of Canton thanks, in part, to Halstead's free-throw shooting and Madison Morrison's three-point shooting.
The Eaglettes opened up the second quarter, however, on a 9-0 run to take a 12-point lead on the Pantherettes. North Lamar finished the half on an 11-4 run to cut the deficit to five. Morrison and Halstead both connected on a three-point shots to ignite the rally.
Down by five to start the third quarter, North Lamar watched Canton quickly jump back out to a 10-point lead on a three-pointer to open the half and a layup to follow. Canton, then did what every North Lamar fan did not want to see. They ran the clock.
During the third quarter, North Lamar watched Canton pass the ball around with efficiency as they ate up over three minutes on one possession. North Lamar would get the game down to five points one more time but that was as close as they got. Canton was able to keep running out the clock and hold onto the lead.
As the final buzzer sounded we all sat there a little speechless. It wasn't because Canton won. Canton proved on Friday night they were the better team. We sat there because it was over. This team has provided so much joy and entertainment for three months.
This team has accomplished much more than anyone could have expected. The great part of this team is just that; they play as a team. The Pantherettes were one of the most selfless teams I've ever had the priveledge of watching play. On any given night, you could have any number of girls lead the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and/or steals. The beauty of it was nobody cared. They didn't care if they had the most. They just wanted to win.
Phil Jackson once said, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
This describes the Pantherettes pefectly. From the top to the bottom. Coach Chris Arledge had this team working together and playing as one unit. Whether it was Bailey Exum knocking down three after three. Perhaps Bill Jones grabbing a huge rebound or Lexie Stephens causing another jump ball situation. This team was what every team should be like.
"Obviously that's the hardest part of the season being over tonight," Coach Arledge said about this being the last game with the seniors. "When I went back to the locker room, I didn't mention one word about the game, except that Canton was the better team tonight. But everything else was about how much I appreciated day in and day out the mentality they brought to practice. The mentality they brought to games, and the leadership of our seniors and how much I appreciate them. The last thing I told them was, 'what is the true definion of a team? It was those 13 girls in the locker room.'"
The five seniors on this team will surely be missed. All five impacted the team in a unique and special way. Kylie Halstead had the abiilty to lead by example. Aaryn Honeywood played any role she was asked to in the offense and defense. Lexie Stephens did all the little things that don't show up in the stats sheet. Bailey Exum would hit big shot after big shot when her team needed her to. Jordan Jones was the most inspiring person you could ever ask for on the team.
Those short few words do not begin to describe each of those players. So, like the movie and the concert, this too was one of those things that had to come to an end.
(To maintain the integrity of the article, individual stats were not posted. However, if this is something you are looking for please contact me and I will get them for you.)