BASKETBALL: Panthers pound the Pioneers

The Porterville Panthers win their first league game against the Mt. Whitney Pioneers

PORTERVILLE – The Porterville Panthers defeated the Mt. Whitney Pioneers 48-13 in their first league game of the season.

After a tough non-league schedule and a two week break, the Panthers enter league play with a victory over Mt. Whitney. It was a slow game in the first half, but once they got in the groove in the second half, the Panthers dominated possession of the ball and the scoreboard. They only allowed the Pioneers to score 13 points throughout the game.

“It took awhile to get going and back in the flow of things,” Portervillle head coach David Kavern said.

The Panthers had a slow start, only scoring seven points in the first quarter. They began to pick it up in the second, but it was the third when they began to take off. They put 19 points on the board in the third. It all seemed to be much simpler: keep the ball out of Mt. Whitney’s hands and create space on offense for the shooters.

Senior Greenley Wilson was a key player in the third quarter. She switches seamlessly from offense to defense and back again. At halftime, Kavern had Wilson make an adjustment that seemed to be the key to the Panthers scoring streak.

“We made an adjustment in the zone offensively,” Kavern said. “We moved Wilson to a certain area to try to get the ball and create more space for Ryleigh [Schoonover] at the post.”

The Panthers and Monache were joined in the East Yosemite League by the four Visalia public schools this year, so this was the first meeting between Mt. Whitney and Porterville since 2017. In preparation of playing against the tough Visalia schools, the Panthers played an intense non-league schedule, including a tournament in Las Vegas at the end of December.

That tough schedule has set them up for success. Even though they entered league play with a 7-9 record, many of those losses were against teams that were at much higher levels than teams other EYL schools played during non-league play.

Kavern admitted that the top teams in the league will probably be El Diamante and Monache, but hopes to be right behind them in the rankings going into playoffs. As of now, El Diamante, Monache and Porterville are all 1-0. The Panthers will have to play the rest of the EYL before facing either of them, beginning with Redwood on Jan. 13.

Mt. Whitney may not have played their best game against Porterville, but the Pioneers are a less experienced team in comparison to the Panthers. They only have a few returning players and quite a few new players, but playing in the EYL will give them good experience.

“We’re getting better as the season goes on,” Mt. Whitney head coach Joe Torres said. “So we just got to bounce back from this for next week.”

Mt. Whitney will face Golden West on Jan. 13 at home.

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