By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
The emotion of battling a neighboring rival, combined with the pressure of the post-season, added up to a tight contest between Monticello and Anamosa.
For a while.
Monticello’s smothering defense helped the Panthers outscore Anamosa 31-12 in the second half on the way to a 45-26 victory.
“At first we did not do a very good job of keeping our emotions in check,” Monticello coach Donnie Kremer said. “At halftime we talked about just playing basketball and not worrying about who we were playing.
“In the second half we settled down and just played our style of basketball. We started to execute on the offensive side much better, and finished some shots.”
The Panthers (17-5) advanced to the semifinal round, where they will meet Center Point-Urbana Wednesday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m. in Center Point.
Both teams struggled to score in the first half, as they fought through a ragged 16 minutes and wound up in a 14-14 tie at the break.
“I thought we were extremely tight in the first half,” Kremer said. “The jitters got the best of some of the girls. We missed some easy shots as well that led to our offensive struggles. Give credit to Anamosa and their defense for making it difficult for us to get our offense going.”
It was even more difficult for Anamosa’s offense in the second half. The Panthers held the Blue Raiders without a field goal for nearly seven minutes in the third quarter, and came out of the session with a 26-20 lead.
“We talked about making sure that we did not give them any easy shots or open shots,” the coach said. “We also wanted to eliminate their dribble penetration, which I thought we did a decent job of in the second half.”
Monticello pushed the lead to 29-20 when Mandi Miles hit the second of her two three-point baskets. Moments later, a technical foul called against Anamosa gave Lael Lubben two free throws, and she sank them both to push the lead to 11 with 7:11 to play.
Lubben went on to score 10 of her 16 points in that final period, as the Panthers gradually extended the lead. Paxtyn Keleher added 14 points, and Miles finished with nine.
Allison Kraus and Lubben grabbed nine rebounds apiece, and Keleher hauled in eight. Kraus also had four assists, and Keleher had three. Lubben blocked three shots. Miles had two steals.
Monticello did struggle at the free throw line, shooting just 9-for-22, including 2-for-10 in the third quarter.
“We are going to have to rebound better, communicate on defense more, and finish shots,” Kremer said. “Also, our free throws must improve.”
Anamosa 11 3 6 6 – 26
Monticello 8 6 12 19 - 45
MONTICELLO (45) - Mandi Miles 2-5 3-8 9, Andrea Bone 0-4 0-3 0, Paxtyn Keleher 7-16 0-2 14, Lael Lubben 5-9 6-9 16, Allison Kraus 2-11 0-0 4, Sonya McCormick 1-4 0-0 2, Hannah Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Tessa Leibold 0-0 0-0 0, Allison Ries 0-1 0-0 0, Ellen Schlarmann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-50 9-22 45.
Three-pointers: Miles 2.
Rebounds: Monticello 35 (Lubben 9, Kraus 9, Keleher 8).
Total fouls: Monticello 19.
PHOTO: Andrea Bone of the Panthers drives against an Anamosa defender in the Class 2A regional quarterfinal game Feb. 9 in Monticello. (Photo by Pete Temple)