The Knoxville Panthers broke in the New Year with a non-conference tilt against the Lady Jays from Bondurant-Farrar Friday night on the home hardwood. For the first six minutes of the contest the two teams matched each other point for point. But the next six minutes spelled disaster for the Panthers as they were unable to find the hoop and the Jays erupted for 19 points.

In the early going the Panthers used the Tandem of Maggie Wilkins and Katie Keitges tie the score at 9-9. Wilkins snaked her way through the B-F defense for a pair of driving baskets and Keitges nailed a three from somewhere out near where the “Big Panther” lives. But then the long dry spell created a hole too big to crawl out of.

Wilkins broke the drought with a bucket from the elbow and then the Panthers started to chip away at the 28-9 deficit.

Knoxville finished the second stanza with a 10-2 run to whittle the B-F lead down to 30-19 going into intermission. Keitges had a pair of conventional three point plays in the run and Wilkins had a bucket and a pair of free throws.

The two teams played even in the third period and the Jays took a 38-28 lead into the final eight minutes. In that final period a steal and a layup by Keitges cut the deficit to six points at 43-37 with 4:42 left in the game. But that would be as close at the Panthers would get as the duo of Avery Fried and Katie Fogarty kept Knoxville at bay and gave the Panthers their first loss of the season.

Wilkins led the Panthers with 19 points and she dished out six assists. Keitges was close behind with 18 points, five steals and four assists and Marley McKay and Tara Uitermarkt were the rebound leaders with five apiece.

Fried led the Jays with 23 points and Fogarty added 14 points.

The Panthers fell to 7-1 for the season.

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Panther Head Coach Jim Uitermarkt replied, “We turned the ball over too much to beat a good team like BF. In a 7 point ball game when you look back and see that we had double the TO’s that BF had you quickly ralize that was key.”

He added, “I was very proud of our girls after we got down by 16 points that we didn’t fold. We kept fighting and cut that first half lead a little going into halftime. In the second half we made several nice runs to cut the score to 6-7 points but unfortunately, BF had an answer every time.”

KHS will be home Friday to face Albia in league play.

Perry Bell contributed to this story.

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