Girls lose heartbreaker to panthers

Josalyn Murphy races up the court after one of her steals during the Pinnacle Panthers last week. Photo by Anthony Militano

The Red Devils basketball team dropped a nail-biter 40-38 to the Pinnacle Academy Lady Panthers on Wednesday, Dec. 4, in Moab.

Pinnacle and Grand tested each other in the first quarter with a lot of energy up and down the court. In a preseason interview, coach Andrea Noyes noted that speed was a prime feature of the youthful team this year. Freshmen Josalyn Murphy and Megan Zunich did not give the Panthers any respite and both displayed a true talent for stealing the ball.

Murphy in particular showed a gift for larceny before racing her way back into Grand territory.

Veteran players Madison Munger, Jenny Kopell and Tenney Cook kept up with Murphy and they had the patience and experience to attempt quality shots on the basket, leading to a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter was as intense as the first and Grand focused on building the lead. Both teams committed 10 fouls apiece, but neither the Red Devils nor the Panthers fully capitalized on going to the line. Senior Jessica Larsen was a reliable free throw shooter for Grand and she is working on her outside shots. She may be the next three-point queen for the Devils, who were up 20-16 at halftime.

Grand extended the lead in the third quarter and was up 27-19 with about 4:30 left to go in the third. Grand committed five fouls in three minutes and were fortunate to be up 31-24 at the end of the third.

gchs girls basketball
Madison Munger passes the ball during the Red Devils’ game against Pinnacle – a game in which they led throughout until the end of the fourth quarter. Photo by Anthony Militano

The Panthers were poised to strike.

The Red Devils were aggressive going into the fourth quarter; the difference was that Pinnacle’s shots were landing in the basket, whereas Grand was firing air balls. As the Panthers crept up on Grand, the game became more physical and the number of fouls increased on both sides. Pinnacle picked up easy points from the line, Grand did not.

Grand essentially led the entire game, but with 1:37 left in the fourth, Pinnacle tied, then a second later the Panthers took a 39-37 lead. A couple of fouls later, Grand was out of time and Pinnacle had the come-from-behind win.

“I am pretty proud of my young team,” coach Noyes sated after the game. “The way they were able to keep their composure under pressure despite being so young, I think they did a great job.”

The Red Devils are scheduled to start a seven game road trip on Dec. 19 and will not return to Moab until Tuesday, Jan. 14 when they will face Emery.