Panthers win over B-W, sets up showdown with DurandThe Ellsworth High School girls' basketball team did what it needed to to top Baldwin-Woodville Friday at home although it didn't score a point in the final quarter.
By: Ryan Nillson - Republican-Eagle, Pierce County Herald
Ellsworth High School's girls basketball team almost doubled Baldwin-Woodville's score Friday even though it didn't record a point in the final quarter, yet when three Ellsworth players gathered in the training room for a postgame interview they weren't satisfied.
"We won, but we didn't play as well as we should have or could have," senior Carlie Melstrom said. "We had too many turnovers in the first half."
Added junior Taylor Murphy: "We just got to learn to take care of the ball better and play to how we can play, not play down to the level of our opponents."
The Panthers turned the ball over 15 times in the opening half and 23 times in the game, but still emerged with a 47-24 victory over the Blackhawks (4-10 overall, 0-8 Middle Border Conference).
Ellsworth had nine, 11 and 12 turnovers in its previous three games.
"We're never gonna downplay the fact that we beat somebody, but we do have standards and expectations," Ellsworth coach Dave Berg said. "We think we're capable of playing better than we did tonight and I think it's good that the kids feel that way as well."
This season the expectations around the program are higher. With the victory, Ellsworth improved to 10-6 overall and 6-2 in the Middle Border Conference. The Panthers had not won more than seven games in a season going back to the 2002-03 campaign.
The Panthers have been successful because they can set a breakneck tempo that utilizes their athleticism and masks their lack of size on the interior. However, the tempo wasn't fast enough for Ellsworth's liking against the Blackhawks, according to Melstrom.
The first message the Panthers coaching staff writes on the board before each game is "Be relentless" so it's fitting that the second trademark of this Ellsworth team is its defense.
"Our offense comes from how hard we play on the other end of the court," Melstrom said.
The Panthers finished with 23 steals, but they missed several layups in transition.
Ellsworth made up for the misses by hitting six 3-pointers, including three in the second quarter when they started to pull away.
Senior Kelly Kannel hit one of those second-quarter 3s and led the Panthers with 10 points. Murphy added eight points while Melstrom and junior Kayla Christopherson scored seven apiece.
Ellsworth faces league-leading Durand in its next game. The Panthers lost to Durand 53-40 on Jan. 12.
"When we played Durand there was two different teams on the floor -- our team, who was hoping we would win, and Durand just came out like, 'We're gonna win,'" Melstrom said. "But now we have (their) mindset."