52° F Monday, April 24, 2017

By Joe Harrington

Pflugerville Plag

How do you make a coach with 607 career wins, countless district championships and a handful of regional and state final appearances smile from ear to ear?

Well, outscoring your bi-district round opponent 30-3 in the third quarter after having led 43-12 at halftime is a good start.

The Pflugerville High School girls basketball team (34-0 overall) did exactly that Monday against Lake Travis at home. The No.2-state ranked, and No. 8-ranked nationally in the USA Today Super 25 poll, Panthers scored 27 points in the first quarter and 30 points in the third to advance to the area round, 87-24.

“We’re going to take one game at a time,” said a grinning Walling. “We played a little sloppy at first, but I think they finally settled down. It was a good crowd, [and] I think they were trying to impress some people.”

The Panthers now play Klein Forest, who defeated Lufkin 50-33 on Monday, in the area round. The Panthers will play Klein Forrest at Consolidated High School at 7 p.m. Friday in College Station.

“We’re excited to be in the position that we’re in,” Walling said. “Just take one game at a time.”

While love may be in the air this week with Valentine’s Day a few days away, it wasn’t surrounding Lake Travis in the playoff opener. The Cavaliers’ clinched the playoffs less than a week earlier, outlasting Del Valle for the final playoff spot in District 15-5A. Clearly outmanned against the loaded Panthers, Lake Travis’ struggles started from the beginning as the Cavaliers couldn’t hang onto the ball against a suffocating press.

The Panthers didn’t hold back, and forced the ball to the rim or drained 3-pointers throughout the night. Four different Panthers hit 3-pointers in the first half as five players reached double-figures in the game.

While the game may have been out of reach early, there were several dramatic moments, but none bigger than when Pflugerville senior Amy Staha went to the ground. Staha, committed to Northwestern State University, was playing defense in the paint when she tumbled in the ground. The senior missed most of her junior year with a right knee injury and went to the locker room and never returned to the game.

Staha did return to the bench later with an ice pack strapped to her right knee. Walling said the team would have to wait and see on the starter’s status after being reevaluated Tuesday.

While Staha is a big piece of the Panther’s plan, the flock of bench players who suited up Monday showed that the Panthers don’t lack depth. Walling subbed players five at a time and the flow never changed.

“I think we’ve got some depth,” Walling said, the smile still there. “The kids that come in off the bench are even quicker on the floor. It’s exciting.”

Bre Payne scored 15 points, while Diana Omozee added 14 and Alyssa Echols added 15 more points off the bench.
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