NEW LEXINGTON — It was the Lady Panthers’ game from the beginning as they quickly stomped the Tornadoes, 53-34, Jan. 2 after holding them to just two points in the first quarter.
New Lexington rocketed into the lead during the first quarter, scoring 15 points while holding West Muskingum to one field goal. The Tornadoes started the game off with a two pointer from Lauren Weingarth just 15 seconds into the game but that would be the last time they scored until the second quarter. Kenadee Dillon hit a three, Emma Abrams scored four points, Haleigh Sammons made a field goal and four free throws, and Brooke Lehman hit a basket for the Panthers.
West Muskingum finally started making waves in the second period after getting 11 points and making double digits. New Lex had 12 points, five of those coming from free throws. Lydia Stephens stepped outside the paint for a three, and Sammons and Riley Harris each made a field goal in the second quarter. At the start of the second half, the score was 27-13 for the Lady Panthers.
Both teams scored seven points in the third, making the score 34-20.
The final quarter saw New Lexington widen their lead after scoring 19 points. Sammons, who played her last game, had three-three pointers, a free throw, and a field goal in the fourth quarter alone, scoring 12 of the Panthers’ 19 points. Maggie Skillman had four points for New Lex, Dillon had two, and Abrams finished with a free throw.
The final score was 53-34 for the Panthers, making this their third consecutive win after they defeated Trimble, 48-42, on Dec. 27 and East Knox, 49-40, on Dec. 29.
“We had quite a bit of steals and quite a bit of forced turnovers in that first quarter,” New Lexington head coach Jay Chadwell said, “The down side of it is we didn’t really convert on a lot of them. We have to look at the positives and look at as many steals as we had, it is a big difference.”
During their game against West M, Sammons was the top scorer with 22 points. The Lady Tornadoes’ Maddie Curtis and Hayley Barker followed with eight points each.
Sammons also had four assists and four steals, Abrams had six rebounds, Dillion finished with five steals, and Harris had eight rebounds. The team finished with a total of 15 steals.
This was Sammons’, a senior, last game after she transferred to the team this year. Due to new OHSAA rules, transfer players can only play in the first 11 games of the season.
“I think they see the emotion on Haleigh in the locker room and at the end of the game when she was being subbed out, what it means to her and how quickly its over. You never know the situations that’s going to arise to force that hand. So I think the other girls see in that someone who has been through the battles and been through the trenches, and what it means to be a part of a team and what it means to be a team player,” Chadwell explained.