Women's Basketball: Panthers' stellar season closes out in USA South semifinals

FERRUM, Va. - LaGrange's outstanding 2013-14 season closed out in the semifinals of the USA South Tournament on Friday on the campus of Ferrum College.

Maryville (22-5) downed the Panthers 69-46 to reach Saturday's championship game against the Ferrum-Methodist winner. The Panthers finished 16-11 under first year head coach Lee Buchanan.

"We just didn't have it today and you have to give credit to Maryville, they shot it well and made it tough for us tonight on the offensive end." Buchanan said. "We started the game well but went through a long dry spell as the half went on."

The Panthers had some big games during the season. They beat nationally-ranked Ferrum on the road, defeated Maryville in Mariotti Gym for the first time, won over Huntingdon on the final day of the regular season to reach the conference tournament, and then upset Greensboro on Thursday to reach the semifinals.

The game also marked the final game for seniors Caroline Brashier, Abbey Martin, Hunter Connell and Alex Wilson.

Shaye Butler led the Panthers with 11 points. Madison Barker came within a rebound of a double-double, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds.

The Panthers came out strong to start the game. They led 12-3 after the first five minutes. Butler and Kelsey Mitchell led the way with five points each during the run.

Wilson hit a 3-pointer to make it 20-12 with nine minutes left in the half. Maryville answered by outscoring the Panthers 24-4 the rest of the way to lead 36-24 at halftime.

The Panthers could not make up the deficit in the second half. Wilson made her final 3-pointer of her career midway through the second half. She finished as the school's all-time leader in 3-point shots with 219.

"I cannot be more proud of a basketball team. The heart, commitment and dedication they gave this year was tremendous." Buchanan said. "For a group of young ladies to work hard and grow into a basketball family is very special for me as their coach. It has been a ton of fun and I have enjoyed each day with this team!

"The four seniors are truly a special and talented group that will be sorely missed. I am so very fortunate to have had an opportunity to coach each of them. They will always be a big part of the Panther Basketball family."