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Sports from the week of February 27, 2002

Girls keep winning, face Windom Friday night

The Panther girls basketball team advanced to the finals of the Section 3AA South Tournament Tuesday night with a 57-45 win over Jackson County Central at SSU. The Panthers face the Windom Eagles, a 48-43 winner over the No. 1 seeded Pipestone-Jasper Arrows. The Windom game is set for 8 p.m. Friday at SSU.

"We have to feel good about the game," said Panther Coach Paul Soupir. "We are now 2-0 in the playoffs and that is where we wanted to be."

Before the game it was felt that if Tracy/Milroy/Balaton could hit a few "threes" at the beginning of the game it would force JCC out of the zone defense that gave the Panthers trouble in their loss to the Huskies on Feb. 4 at Tracy. However that wasn't the way it worked out and JCC took a 10-6 early lead in the first quarter. The Panthers kept their composure and worked back to an 18-16 lead at the end of the first period. They then out-scored JCC 12-7 in the second period to lead 30-23 at the half.

"Our kids kept their composure when Jenny (Otto) was in early foul trouble," said Soupir. "And that helped us a lot."

"We did a nice job of maintaining our tempo and being patient against the zone," said Soupir. "We got a lead and they had to come out of the zone and things opened up a bit."

"Last time we were out-rebounded 32-17 and we had to do better than that in order to win," observed Soupir.

Kathman finishes career with third-place finish

Erik Kathman was the highest finisher for Panther wrestlers in Section 3AA individual competition.

The senior finished third in the 152-pound class. Adam Snyder was fourth at 119.

Kathman reached the finals against the defending state champion Marc Harwood from Jackson County Central. After losing to him he had to wrestle again for true second in order to qualify for a trip to the state tournament.

"I came about as close as you can come to making the state," said a disappointed Kathman.

"Erik (Kathman) had a heartbreaking situation," said Panther Coach Travis Christensen. "He had just lost in the finals to the best 152 pound wrestler in the state and he had to wrestle for true second. The other kid had nothing to lose and was loose. Erik got down 5-0 in the first 15 seconds. To his credit he came back and forced the match into overtime before losing 9-7.

From this mix Kathman got a third place finish, Snyder a fourth, Nelson a fifth and Goettig a sixth place finish.

Christensen credited Snyder for placing fourth “in one of the toughest weight classes in the tournament."

The coach said he was also impressed with Nelson's showing.

"Andy had a really good second half of the season," observed Christensen. "He was winless in the first half and ended up the second half with a winning record 9-8 and a fifth place finish."

Christensen said it had been “a difficult season for the kids, especially the older ones. They have had to get used to a new coaching style. However I am really excited about next year, I think we are headed in the right direction."

TMB boys open tourney Saturday against Arrows

Team plays YME tough in finale

The Panther boys' basketball team lost their last game of the regular season to Yellow Medicine East at Granite Falls Friday night 59-54. The loss dropped their season record to 2-20 and they are 1-13 in the 212 Conference.

"We played very well except for the first two minutes of the third period," said Panther Coach Jon Ruoff. "They went on a 6-0 run at that time and that was the ball game."

Despite a season of mostly losses Tracy/Milroy/Balaton stayed in character in this game and played up to the level of their opponent's ability. YME is one of the better teams on the Panther schedule and they lost to them early in the season 53-51 and again played them close Friday night.

The Panthers have played well against MACCRAY, Marshall, Jackson County Central and YME while not playing as well against teams with poorer records.

"We made 14 free throws and YME made 24," said Ruoff. "It is very difficult to make up those ten points in field goals."

"Jordan (Roots) and Jake (Peterreins) played their best games of the season against YME," said Ruoff. "If we can get all the players playing their best against Pipestone-Jasper we could cause some trouble for them."

The Panthers will begin post season play Saturday night against Pipestone-Jasper in the Section 3AA tournament at SSU.

"We lost to them in the first game of the year but played well in the first half," said Ruoff. "Their pressure defense caused us trouble in the second half in that game but, hopefully we have learned how to handle the press since then."