Panthers pull a win over Dragons

Dallas’ Emma Classen drives against Central’s Elizabeth Chavez.

Photo by Jolene Guzman
Dallas’ Emma Classen drives against Central’s Elizabeth Chavez.

DALLAS — The showdown between Central and Dallas’ girls basketball teams was a scrappy, bodies-on-the-floor kind of affair that was competitive into the fourth quarter.

The Panthers prevailed 43-34 in the cross-county contest that is more than just another Mid-Willamette Conference game.

“This is my first time coaching in this rivalry,” said Dallas’ first-year head coach Tim Ehlers. “It’s bragging rights.”


Central guard Megan Mendazona brings the ball up the court at Dallas on Jan. 24 .

Central (15-1, 6-0 MWC), in its first game since a dramatic overtime win against Corvallis on Jan. 19, found some late-game magic.

Going into the fourth quarter, Dallas reduced the 10-point half-time deficit to three, and had momentum going into the final frame. The Panthers needed to regroup.

“We knew we weren’t playing very well, and we knew if we came out and just settled down and just did what we do, it would take care of itself,” said Central coach Julie McDonald.

Putting in a full-team effort, Central stopped Dallas’ momentum and took control of the final eight minutes.

“Let’s slow down, let’s rethink this, let’s breakdown the basics and do things right,” McDonald said. “We didn’t really panic at all, which shows their maturity.”

While Dallas (7-8, 1-5 MWC) didn’t get the victory this time around, Ehlers was impressed by his team’s effort.

“They were good. They played tough,” he said. “We just couldn’t find it. Not enough points in the fourth quarter.”

He said the team has been focusing on conditioning physically and mentally for playing in a conference loaded with strong teams.

Ehlers said players can’t get distracted or lose confidence over missed shots

“We don’t have time to worry about what happened; we have to worry about what’s coming,” he said. “This is all positive moving forward. This is the team that we expect. I think they understand that we expect that. They just have to find it with each other.”

Dallas lost a close contest to South Albany on Friday 46-43 and are in seventh place in MWC.

The Dragons traveled to Silverton for a game after press time on Tuesday.

Friday the Dragons play at Corvallis and host Crescent Valley on Tuesday.

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