Kenzi Ketterhagen, shown here against Westosha Central, helped the Panthers to a 49-34 Southern Lakes Conference win against Burlington Friday.

By Jason Arndt

All the Burlington High School girls basketball team wanted to do was slow the game down, but host Wilmot Union High School had other plans on Friday, when the Lady Panthers continued to press and run.

The Lady Panthers pressure defense, along with an uptempo offense, helped Wilmot come away with a 49-34 Southern Lakes Conference victory.

Demons coach Mary Parker, whose team jumped to an 13-5 lead to start the contest, said the downfall came in the middle of the first half when the Panthers switched defensive schemes.

“It just came down to when they got that initial lead, and got that tempo going,” said Parker. “We didn’t want to play that game, we wanted to slow things down, and they were able to stretch us out in the first half in getting the ball down the court.”

“That is not what we excel at and they were able to take advantage of it.”

While 5-10 senior Jessa Burling scored a game-high 13 points for Burlington, Wilmot coach Jerod Boyd said the team’s diamond press played a critical role in limiting her scoring opportunities.

“We switched up to our diamond press, we have been flirting with numerous presses and we thought this was the best we had,” said Boyd, whose team improved to 5-5 overall, and stays in second place with a 4-1 SLC record.

“We knew how to take away Burling in this press, that is why we did so well, and we found out where they were going.”

Overall, the Panthers forced 17 steals.

The Panthers pressure, according to Burling, did not come as a surprise.

“Their defense was definitely something that we had practiced towards, and we knew it was going to be a high pressure,” said Burling.

Burling propels early Demon lead
To open contest, Burling knocked in a bucket to give Burlington an early 2-0 lead.

After Wilmot pulled ahead 3-2 in the next possession, courtesy of a junior Riley Alexander 3-pointer, the Demons then produced an 8-0 run starting with a senior Hannah Ketterhagen bucket.

Although Wilmot’s Becca Bell put a stop to the Demons run, Burling responded with a 3-pointer to give Burlington a 13-5 edge, which prompted Boyd to call a timeout.

Kenzi Ketterhagen ignites Panthers
Coming off the bench after the timeout, 5-2 sophomore Kenzi Ketterhagen opened with a bucket to start the first of two 12-0 first half runs, which gave the Panthers a 17-13 lead.

According to Kenzi Ketterhagen, who acknowledged the team’s slow start, she knew what had to get done.

“In the first half, we kind of got off slow, so I knew I had to step up and score some points and help the team get us rolling,” said Ketterhagen, who scored a team-leading 11 points.

In the 12-0 stretch, after Kenzi Ketterhagen’s basket, the Panthers received two Alexander points, a junior Karoline Klahs 3-pointer followed by a senior Morgan Zenon shot in low post.

Panthers’ 5-10 senior Ashley Lesko, who drew a Burling foul, then made one of her two free throws to give the Panthers a 15-13 lead.

Kenzi Ketterhagen, meanwhile, capped off the run with another basket before Demons’ senior Holly Johnson responded with one of her own.

Johnson’s basket, however, was negated by the second 12-0 Panthers’ scoring outburst, started by Zenon.

Kenzi Ketterhagen poured in five of the Panthers’ 12 points in the second run of the first half.

Boyd credited Kenzi Ketterhagen’s contagious energy for the first half rally, which carried the Panthers into halftime with a 29-17 lead.

“She is the scrappiest kid we have, for her size, she is one of the better rebounders on the floor,” said Boyd. “She plays with an energy for the game and it’s contagious.”

“We needed it, you noticed when she came off the bench, we started playing better.”

Alexander, who forced several turnovers, scored eight of her 10 points in the first half.

“Riley is a shooter and she played really good defense,” Boyd said. “She trapped well.”

Wilmot bolsters lead
Courtesy of a 9-0 run to open the second half, including four points from Zenon, the Panthers put Burlington into a 38-17 deficit.

Despite Burling’s efforts to draw fouls, which led to an 8 for 10 performance from the free throw line in the second half, the Panthers continued to pressure the Demons’ offense.

“(Jessa) does what she does every night, she does everything, she plays defense, she rebounds and she scores and gives it her all day in and day out,” said Parker, whose team dropped to 7-5 overall and 3-2 in the SLC.

The Panthers’ win, however, comes in spite of a Zenon injury with 10:41 left in regulation.

Zenon’s injury led to a stoppage in play.

“I hope she is able to stay off of it, and that she will be okay,” Boyd said about Zenon, who finished with eight points.


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