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Hugget, Panther seniors leave home winners over NR

For Ellsworth High School senior Sam Huggett, there was no better way to play her final regular season contest on the Panthers' home floor.

"It was my best moment in basketball by far," Huggett said.

As well it should be, after she scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Panthers to a 54-40 win over rival New Richmond Thursday.

Soaring ever higher

Huggett said, "Encouragement from her coaches and teammates along with good shooting during warm-ups had her confidence soaring before the ballgame."

"My coaches have told me to stay confident and everybody today from our families to our fans were very encouraging, so I was ready and excited to play tonight," Huggett said. "Once I started knocking a few down during warm-ups, I knew I was going to have a good night shooting the ball."

Ellsworth Coach J. Fisk said that Huggett was rhythm with the Panthers offense.

"Sam is a good shooter when she gets the ball cleanly from a good pass and is able to spot up for the shot," Fisk said. "Once she has the confidence to shoot, she's going to want the ball and that's what she did tonight."

Two other Panther seniors were at top of the team's scoring column, Michelle Olson with eight points and Chelsey Huppert with seven. Freshman Shannon Campbell finished with eight points as well.

"Chelsey and Michelle could have been in double figures tonight if they hadn't been in foul trouble," Fisk said. "We really had the high-low game working well with them."

Grace under pressure

After a slow start that kept Ellsworth from scoring a basket until midway through the first quarter, the Panthers started to click and took an 11-8 lead. Although, they trailed the Tigers 20-18 at halftime, they outscored New Richmond 33-20 in the second half, including a 10-2 run in the third quarter that gave them the lead for good and a sweep in the season series.

Keying such offense was Ellsworth's ability to break New Richmond's press and score baskets in transition.

"We did a good job of handling their press," Fisk said. "Although, we had our fair share of turnovers, we were able to get set-up in our offense or take advantage of mismatches because they hadn't set their defense."

Maggie Demulling was the only New Richmond player in double figures with 10 points.

"We backed off and gave their players a little more room on defense except for Kassie Kunz," Fisk said. "Instead of driving to the lane, they took more outside shots which they weren't comfortable taking."

Besides celebrating another Senior Night win, Ellsworth will also gain when it comes to seeding and that could lead to an interesting regional tournament if the Panthers continue to play like this the rest of the season.

"We're working together as a team now and when you do that, you give yourself a chance to compete against anybody," Fisk said.