By Per Peterson
Neither a quick start nor a 14-point second-half lead was good enough for the Panthers in their Class AA quarterfinal game against the Roseau Rams on Wednesday night, as TMB’s hopes for a state title were dashed with a 62-56 loss at Williams Arena.
TMB was brilliant at times offensively, but the Rams were able to take advantage of the Panthers’ periodic lapses. As the game went on, the Panthers appeared to grow frustrated. When they punched, Roseau punched back harder, and in the end, it was the Rams who did just enough to pull out the win.
TMB built a 43-29 lead and had all the momentum a team can get in the early parts of the second half. However, Roseau chipped away at the lead and bit by bit were able to make it disappear altogether.
A three-pointer by Katie Borowicz at the 9:40 mark made it a two-point game, and the Rams slowly regained their offensive mo-jo that made them one of the highest scoring teams in Class AA. They grabbed their first lead of the game since the 15:05 mark of the first half on a put-back basket by May Hough with 4:30 left.
It was a lead they never relinquished.
Sid Karbo pulled TMB to within three points at 59-56 with 1:50 to go and had a chance to do more damage, but couldn’t do anything with a turnover it forced at half court. The Rams committed another turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass, but once again TMB failed to convert. That forced TMB to foul, and a free throw by Kacie Borowicz made it a four-point game.
Syd Lanoue missed a three-point shot with 9.8 left, essentially ending the game.
In typical fashion, TMB started strong, scoring the game’s first eight points — all by senior Evy Dolan. The defending champion, run-and-gun Rams couldn’t find any room to operate offensively and looked like they were the team without any state tournament experience.
The Panthers made seven of their first 12 shots of the contest and if they had any pregame jitters, it definitely didn’t show
TMB’s lead grew to 11-2 on a three-pointer by Kaylee Kirk, but Roseau slowly chipped away.
The Rams grabbed their first lead at 16-15, but TMB regained the lead on a three by Kirk with 9:20 to go in the first half. Points were at a premium late in the second half, and TMB was able to go into the locker room with a 30-25 cushion.
The referees definitely “let ‘em play” in the quarterfinal tilt. Nothing came easy for the Panthers offensively in the second half, as all their drives were contested in a physical fashion.
The typical bumping and shoving commonly seen in tournament games intensified down the stretch.
Kirk and Dolan paced TMB offensively with 16 points apiece. Dolan also grabbed 13 rebounds, and Kirk dished out five assists. Lanoue chipped in with 13 points and Karbo added six. Defensively, Karbo’s four blocks highlighted a strong defensive effort by the 6-foot senior and Dolan had six steals.
The Borowicz sisters combined to score 32 points. They were the only Rams in double figures.
The Panthers were 14-of-23 from the free throw line, and shot just 34% from the field. Roseau wasn’t much better offensively, making just 61% of its free throws and shooting at a 37Q% clip from the field.
The Panthers play Mesabi East at 8 p.m. today in the consolation semifinals.