ANNA – Princeton’s Lady Panthers defeated Anna 35-12 on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Anna High School, with stifling defense, a height advantage and plenty of speed. Princeton (4-2) raced out to an 8-0 lead and held the Lady Coyotes at bay the rest of the way. When these two teams last met, on Jan. 7 at Princeton, the Lady Panthers prevailed, 43-31, after a close contest for three quarters.

“We essentially showed them something we hadn’t shown yet on film the first time we played them,” Anna head coach Grant Bergman said. “The first time we played them, it kind of gave them some fits. But then they made a couple of adjustments at halftime.”

He added that the team’s defense was still just as strong as it was the first time they played Princeton.

“The difference is we played man-to-man tonight, all man-to-man, and we played all zone the last time we played them,” Bergman said. “… Both of the defenses were fine. It’s the turnovers, it’s the bad judgments, it’s (being) unable to make good decisions in the right amount of time, that just absolutely kills us. … And they (Princeton) have got a really well-coached defensive team out there, so they get the credit. They did a good job of pressuring the basketball and they did an even better job of forcing us to go to spots on the floor where we didn’t want to go.”

Lady Panthers head coach Meaghan Hodapp said her team approached this Princeton-Anna meeting “with more focus and we just worked on little things.”

“I just liked our execution and the fact that we held them to five rebounds,” Hodapp said. “I think that’s big for our team. We just ran our sets and performed the way that I know that we could. … They just always were intense and listening in changing up the defense. They really honed in on that.”

Nakeitra Mack led Princeton scorers, with 12 points.

Down, 8-0, and after an Anna timeout, junior Jashell Evans got the Lady Coyotes on the board with a layup off a senior Savannah Kendall assist. Evans followed with another layup and was fouled, completing a three-point play to pull Anna to within 10-5 as the first quarter ended. She would lead the Lady Coyotes with seven points on the night.

The Lady Coyotes (1-5) came up with three steals on the second quarter, but were unable to turn them into points. Meanwhile, Princeton extended its lead to 18-7 by halftime.

“We had some good looks, but we missed,” Bergman said. “… It’s hard to gain momentum, it’s hard to gain confidence when you miss wide-open shots. We missed a breakaway layup, we missed several wide-open 3s that we’ve hit in some previous games.”

The Lady Panthers’ lead bulged to 28-7 in the third quarter on buckets by Mack, Ryleigh Augnst and Tristan Lloyd. Anna’s Avery Oonk closed out the period with a layup down the lane. In the final quarter, sophomore Angel Dube drained a 3 from the right-top of the key to draw the Lady Coyotes to within 30-12 before Princeton tacked on five final points.

“They’re not getting down on each other,” Bergman said of his team. “They’re very supportive of each other. So as far as cracks in the foundation, I don’t see any. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but it certainly isn’t made obvious. So, credit to those kids for just hanging in there and grinding.”