by Samantha Lefebvre
PACT Charter School girls basketball hit running time in its first round of Section 5A play with an 84-50 win over Hope Academy March 1.
The Panthers ousted Hope Academy by 34 points and hit running time with less than three minutes left on the clock.
“I think our team intensity was on tonight,” PACT first year coach Scott Antl said. “The girls have practiced hard. They have been through a lot this season and they want this really bad.”
PACT led the first half 50-24, with senior guard Rachel Butler sinking 15-points and going 6-6 from the line.
Butler continued to rack up the points for the Panthers in the second half, totaling a game leading 26 points. Senior guard Beth Nelson contributed an outstanding 23 points. Together the dynamic duo put up 49 points, over half of the teams total points.
“They were great. What more can a coach ask,” Antl said of Butler and Nelson. “They are two great kids and I am going to miss them next year. I hope that they take us a long way.”
Sophomore Rachel Stevenson also put up double digits for the Panthers, tallying 15 points toward their first round success.
The win over Hope Academy broke the Panthers two game losing streak. PACT lost their last two games of the regular season, ending their season with a 15-11 record. In the last half of the regular season alone they sported a losing 4-7 record.
“It was a little rocky,” Antl said. “We had a few 3A teams that we played near the end so it actually helped the girls more than it hurt them. Even though we didn’t win those games I think it gave them more of an idea of what we have to do to win in the post season.”
Butler and Nelson landed on the top ten state leader boards during the regular season. Nelson led the state in assists with 205 total. She also came in fifth in the state in steals, 112.
Butler also fell in the top ten in steals at number nine with 100 steals. She also ranked eighth in the state for rebounds, tallying 300.
But with the start of the postseason, the girls have put those records aside and are focused on getting their team far in the section tournament.
“They are excited for the playoffs, it is like a new season so they know they have a chance to make it far into the playoffs,” Antl said. “So our hope is to get to the final four and reach that semi finals.”
The Panthers will take on number 12 seed Heritage Christian Academy on March 3, after they upset the number five seed Minnesota Transitions Charter School, 57-56.