Panthers take first round of playoffs

The Knoxville girls' basketball team was fired up against Hoover Wednesday night. (photo by Steve Woodhouse)

The Knoxville varsity girls’ basketball team won its Class 4A, Region 7 opening contest Wednesday night with ease, 74-28 over the Des Moines-Hoover Huskies.

A fired-up Panther team got off to a quick start with four points immediately off of turnovers, courtesy of team leaders Katie Keitges and Maggie Wilkins. The Panthers would be aided in this game by mental mistakes of the Huskies, who struggled holding on to the basketball.

Knoxville built its lead to 10-2 around the same time the crowd was getting feisty about the physical play of the Huskies – with few fouls being called compared to the number committed. The Panthers struggled at the charity stripe, going 1 for 4 in the first three minutes.

The Panthers were not shy about taking shots at the basket, but seemed to rush and had a lot of rim bouncers. By the end of the first quarter, Knoxville was up 16-6.

In the second, Knoxville continued its dominance – especially in the rebound game. Hoover tried to take advantage of a few Panther turnovers, but to no avail. Knoxville entered the half with a 35-11 lead.

Hoover showed signs of life early in the third, matching the Panthers shot for shot. This did not last long, as the Panther defense worked hard to get Hoover back off of its game. Knoxville’s offense used this to their advantage and piled on to a 62-24 score by the end of the period.

With a continuous clock, Knoxville did not have to continue at the break-neck pace it had been playing. Several reserves were used as the clock wound down on the Huskies’ season, and the Panthers’ focus began to shift to the next round of the playoffs. Knoxville took the game 74-28.

Unofficial scoring by the Tribune indicates that Keitges finished the game with 32 points, Wilkins with 22. One advantage Knoxville held over the Huskies was the number of scoring players. The Panthers had six by the end of the first quarter. Fellow scorers included Marley McKay, Tara Uitermarkt, Charlee Heffron and Emma Dunkin.

The Panthers are now scheduled to take on Gilbert (17-3) at Gilbert on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 5 p.m.

Go Panthers!