By Richard Greene
The Paradise Lady Panthers used a 14-1 run to start the second half to put their four-game losing streak behind them Friday.
Makenna Burt scored 18 points, and Makala Neighbors added 19 as Lady Panthers cruised to the 61-44 victory over the Peaster Lady Greyhounds at Paradise High School gym.
“This feels really good,” Neighbors said. “It means we still have a chance for the playoffs.”
The Lady Panthers (13-11) are game back of third-place Tolar at the end of the first half of District 10-2A play at 3-4.
Paradise coach Eddie Fortenberry said he’s glad to see his team put the losing streak since Christmas behind them.
“We’re better than we’ve been playing,” he said. “I’m so proud of the girls. They could’ve hung it up. This tells me a lot about them.”
The Lady Panthers scored the game’s first four points and led throughout. Paradise owned a 32-23 halftime lead.
The Lady Panthers tightened up defensively in the third quarter and broke the game open. Paradise held Peaster to a field goal and two free throws in the frame. Peaster was 1-for-6 from the field in the quarter and turned the ball over 10 times.
“It was super,” Fortenberry said about his team’s defense in the third quarter. “We told the girls at halftime that if they can’t score, they can’t beat us.”
Burt, who had 13 points in the first half, put in four at the beginning of the third quarter before picking up her fourth foul and being forced to the bench.
With her off the floor, Neighbors stepped up to lead the Lady Panthers’ offense. She scored seven straight points, including a three-pointer to stretch the Paradise lead to 22 points, 46-24, with 2:38 left in the third quarter.
“Makala was struggling earlier in the year, but she’s starting to play like we knew she could,” Fortenberry said.
Paradise took a 48-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Panthers built the lead to 24, 61-37, on two Neighbors free throws with 1:36 left.
Kaylee McConnell added nine points for Paradise. Courtney Kerr finished with eight, and Jet Preather six.
Shiloh Jenkins led Peaster with 14 points. Megan Whitehead added 12.