South Iron Lady Panthers Headed Back to Final Four for Second Time in Four Years!
The South Iron Lady Panthers came into Saturday's game @ Van Buren High School with a goal of getting back to the Final Four for their 2 seniors Michaela Ayers and Callie Miller - both of whom were on the team that made it when they were freshman. They would have a very tough opponent in the Naylor Lady Eagles, led by multiple final four participant Gene Deckard. Although the Lady Panthers have two seniors, they also have junior, Haley Pauley and some talented underclassman with sophomore Megan Lashley and 4 freshman: Madison Ayers, Alecia Cornell, Tyne Sutton, and Drew Gayle. Nobody knew how these freshmen would respond to a game with a final four trip on the line.
As the game tipped off you could soon tell that this one was going to be a barn burner - back and forth the game would swing through the first quarter with some high energy defense from both teams and after the first quarter the Lady Panthers would hold the slimmest of leads 11-10. The second quarter turned out to be a carbon copy of the first with the Lady Panthers able to win the quarter by a one point margin, which would send them into the locker room at the half 22-20. As the third quarter got underway, the Lady Eagles began to make their move with some outstanding play from their junior guard, Kaylynn Johnson. She was telling her teammates, "Get on my back. We are getting back in this game," with bucket after bucket and when the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter she had done just that. She had brought them all the way back to even @ 29 to start the final frame.
With the gym being at capacity and the game all tied up at 29, which players would be able to get their stomach's out of knots and be able to win the ball game, sealing a trip to Springfield? As the fourth quarter got underway you could tell the defense was not going to let up. If anything it was becoming harder to put points on the board. Back and forth we would go until the Naylor Lady Eagles would begin to inch away up 6 as the game time began to click away. But senior, and Mineral Area College, signee Michaela Ayers was not the type to just watch her basketball playing days @ South Iron just slip way without doing everything she could. So she did what good players do - "give me the ball" - and splashed home deep 3's back to back with a cold bloodedness about her that was scary. Ayers snatched the game right back to even and send the game into overtime where the Lady Panthers' freshman, Madison Ayers, would sink 2 free throws with 4 seconds left, sending the Lady Panthers down Highway 60 to Springfield and the final four!
The Lady Panthers were led in scoring by senior Michaela Ayers with 24 points and freshman Madison Ayers with 8 points The Lady Eagles were led in scoring by Juinor Kaylynn Johnson with 20 points and Juinor Mckenzie Crofford with 8 points.
You can next catch the Lady Panthers in action @ the Final Four in Springfield, MO on Thursday, March 12th against the ladies from South-Nodaway @ 3:30 pm.