With their offense seemingly on an early Thanksgiving break, the Lufkin Lady Panthers’ basketball team relied on an outstanding defensive performance to battle their way to a 40-32 win over the Beaumont Ozen Lady Panthers in Lufkin Tuesday afternoon.
In the final game before a short break for the holidays, Lufkin struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm in scoring only 16 points in the first half. However, it was able to make the key defensive stops that helped spur a 14-2 third-quarter run that proved to be the difference in another non-district win.
The Lady Panthers were led by Jakayla Suell, who scored 10 of her 12 points after the break in helping break open what had been a tight contest in the first half.
Keke Cleveland hit three 3-pointers on her way to a nine-point performance while Alexis Hood scored eight.
In the early going, both teams struggled to find their range as the Lady Panthers’ only points in the first 6:30 came on a Cleveland triple.
Lufkin finally put together back-to-back buckets with Cleveland nailing another three and Hood scoring a layup to give the Lady Pack an 8-5 lead after the first eight minutes.
That lead grew to seven points early in the second quarter with Kurstyn Harden and Ivie Massie hitting four straight free throws for a 12-5 advantage.
The Lady Pack went cold from there, scoring only four points in the final six minutes of the half. In the process, Ozen went on a 14-4 run for a 19-16 advantage at the break.
Lufkin momentarily found its shooting stroke early in the third quarter just in time to seize control of the game. Suell started the half with a free throw, Massie drained a jumper and Cleveland knocked down her third 3-pointer of the game to put the Lady Pack back on the board at 22-19.
After Ozen’s Mercedez Perez made a layup, Lufkin scored the following eight points on a Suell drive, a basket and three-point play from Hood and a free throw from Diamond Johnson, making the score 30-21 in Lufkin’s favor.
The Lady Pack eventually led 32-23 after the third quarter.
In the final frame, Ozen attempted to get back in the game, cutting the margin to 37-32 on an Essynce Thompson drive with 2:09 remaining.
However, Lufkin finally put Ozen away with Suell making a jumper and Hood hitting a free throw for the final eight-point win.
Other scorers for Lufkin were Massie (4), Harden and Johnson (3) and Destinee Holman (1).