The McKinleyville girls bowed out of the Division-IV North Coast Section basketball playoffs on Saturday night, falling 67-48 at No. 1 seed St. Patrick-St. Vincent.
The home team came out on fire, scoring 26 points in the opening quarter against a No. 8 Panthers team that had not played a game in almost two weeks.
“It took us a while to adjust,” McKinleyville head coach Tony McClure said. “We were 12 days without a game and it showed.”
To their credit, the Panthers refused to lie down and grew stronger as the game wore on despite the early deficit, outscoring the home team in two of the final three quarters.
Nine players got their names on the scoring sheet, with Rayn Tripp, Theresia Dickey and Hailee Henry all leading the way with nine points apiece.
“Our girls played hard and didn’t give up, which was good,” McClure said.
Grace Rosebrook added eight points in the loss, while Hope Kibby finished with five.
The Panthers settled down in the second quarter, outscoring the home team 13-10 for the period after making some adjustments offensively.
But there was no way back against the No. 2 ranked Division-IV team in the state.
“They’re good. I won’t take anything away from them,” McClure said. “They played aggressive and shot with confidence. They played with confidence. They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason.”
The Panthers, who received a bye in the first round after No. 9 St. Mary’s was kicked out of the bracket for filing inaccurate information on the school’s NCS seedings application, closed out the season at 14-14.
A young team will graduate only two seniors, while the program’s JV squad won the Big 5 with a perfect 8-0 record, all of which augurs well for the future.
“I told them as a coach I was definitely proud of how they played (this season), and the girls are proud of how they played,” McClure said. “We’re still looking ahead. This was a good experience for our girls.”