EARLVILLE — The word "energy" is commonly used by basketball coaches at every level as something they expect from start to finish when their teams step on the floor.
During most of Monday night's nonconference game here between Earlville-Leland and Putnam County, neither Lady Raiders coach Wayne Koontz nor Lady Panthers skipper Jared Sale admitted seeing anywhere near the urgency they expect from their respective clubs.
However, in the end E-L had just a little bit more of the get-up-and-go than PC in the hosts' 32-24 victory at Earlville High School.
The Raiders led 6-4 after the opening eight minutes, but outpointed the visitors 22-9 over the next two frames to hold a 28-13 advantage heading to the final stanza. After the hosts netted the first two points of the quarter, the Lady Panthers went on an 11-0 run to slice the disadvantage to 30-24 with just over three minutes to go.
The Lady Raiders then forced just enough stops and grabbed enough defensive rebounds to gain the triumph.
"I'm just glad we came out with the win after all of this," said Coach Koontz. "We in no way came out with the energy we needed to, and we really were fortunate to have the lead we had heading into the fourth quarter, because Putnam County turned it up a notch and didn't give up. We needed to handle the pressure better late when they started to press, and we also needed to do a better job of knowing what was a good shot and what was a bad shot when you're trying to hold on to a lead.
"We did some good things tonight in our zone defense, and we ran our offense well at times. Overall it wasn't our best performance, for sure, but a win is a win, and we will take it."
In a contest that saw no player reach double figures in points, E-L (5-0) was led by eight points each by Taylor Weymouth, Alexis Koontz and Kylie Koontz, with Kylie Koontz grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds. Putnam County (5-1) was led by Madelyn Dzrieznyski's eight points, with Megan Wiesbrock and Molly Boyd adding six each and Boyd snaring a game-best 11 boards.
E-L opened the game on a 5-0 run, with Kylie Koontz scoring on a layup and offensive putback before Wiesbrock scored on back-to-back possessions for PC. The visitors trailed 9-8 after a drive by Lindsay DiazDeLeon with 4 minutes, 34 seconds on the first-half clock, but E-L closed out the half with a 3-pointer by Weymouth, free throw by Julia Niles, steal and layup by Alexis Koontz and bank triple from the right wing by Elizabeth Browder with five seconds left to lead 18-8.
The Lady Raiders began the second half with an old-fashioned three-point play by Jadyn Pickert and consecutive hoops from Kylie Koontz to extend things to 25-8. Then, after Alexis Koontz opened the fourth with a basket, PC began its comeback.
Two free throws and rebound hoop by Boyd preceded a pair of 3-pointers by Dzrieznyski, the last making it 30-24 with 3:41 to play. But from there the hosts held the visitors off the scoreboard to keep their perfect season intact while handing the Lady Panthers their first defeat.
"Both teams had a snow day, so that can't be an excuse for not coming out tonight ready to go," said Sale. "I watched the girls when we got on the bus to come here, then in the locker room before the game, and the looks on their faces. I told them we needed to be present, that we needed to show up. In fact it was the only thing I had underlined on the whole board, but we didn't become fully present tonight until there was about two minutes to go in the third quarter and we were down 17.
"Give Earlville-Leland credit. They figured it out and they came out with more energy than we had. If we could have given the energy we had in the first half of the fourth quarter the rest of the game, I would have liked to see where we would have been at."
Earlville-Leland 32, Putnam County 24
(Key: FG-FGA FT-FTA TP)
PUTNAM COUNTY (24) — Dzrieznyski 2-16 2-2 8, DiazDeLeon 1-9 1-3 3, Sabotta 0-0 0-0 0, Wiesbrock 3-6 0-0 6, Boyd 1-5 4-4 6, Bruch 0-1 0-0 0, Tucker 0-0 0-0 0, A. Loomis 0-2 0-0 0, L. Loomis 0-1 1-2 1, Solomon 0-1 0-0 0, Harris 0-1 0-0 0, Cionix 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 7-43 8-11 24.
EARLVILLE-LELAND (32) — Weymouth 3-10 0-0 8, Niles 0-2 1-4 1, Pickert 1-5 1-1 3, A. Koontz 3-7 2-9 8, K. Koontz 4-6 0-1 8, Browder 1-2 1-1 4, Meloy 0-2 0-0 0, Olson 0-1 0-0. Totals 12-35 5-17 32.
Putnam County (5-1) 4 4 5 11 — 24
Earlville-Leland (5-0) 6 12 10 4 — 32
3-point goals — PC 2-14 (Dzrieznyski 2-10, DiazDeLeon 0-4); E-L 3-14 (Weymouth 2-7, Niles 0-1, Pickert 0-2, A. Koontz 0-2, Browder 1-2). Rebounds —PC 34 (Boyd 11); E-L 37 (A. Koontz 10, K. Koontz 7). Assists — PC 4 (DiazDeLeon 3); E-L 5 (Niles 3). Steals — PC 15 (Dzrieznyski 5, DiazDeLeon 5); E-L 8 (Pickert 3, A. Koontz 3). Blocks — PC 0; E-L 0. Turnovers — PC 19, E-L 22. Total fouls (fouled out) — PC 17 (A. Loomis); E-L 11 (none).