Quite the opener for Elizabethtown.

While teams had a game or two under their belts, the Lady Panthers’ first game of the season was postponed until Saturday in the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame Classic inside the Charlie Rawlings Memorial Gymnasium at Elizabethtown.

The hosts welcomed Walton-Verona (2-0), which lost one player off last year’s 25-7 squad.

It wasn’t close.

“Offensively I thought we were really good and I know we have things to get better with there, but tonight was a defensive night,” Lady Panthers coach Donnie Swiney said. “I was very, very proud how we played our man-to-man and the progress we’ve made with it in just a few short weeks. That’s where we won the game. We held a pretty good team to 27.”

Elizabethtown showed why it will be hard to handle with a 61-27 victory over the visitors. It was 30-14 at halftime.

“It was nice to start playing,” said Lady Panthers’ Whitney Hay, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “It was scary for me because I pulled a muscle less than a week ago and I was pretty nervous for this game. I’m so glad I was able to play. If I wouldn’t have, I would have been heartbroken because I never miss games.”

Stepping back onto the court as a varsity player for the first time in a year was junior Kayra Freeman.

After transferring from John Hardin a year ago, she had to sit out all varsity action the remainder of last season.

“It was very nice. I like the speed,” Freeman said. “Varsity games are more intense.

“I thought we played well together. I feel like everybody’s a threat on the court, so it really takes a lot pressure off everybody.”

Xavi Smalley added 11 points and five rebounds, Kenzie Franklin 10 points and Sydney Clark nine points and six boards.

“There are so many qualities that people can do,” Freeman said. “Everybody can shoot. You feel like everybody has your back skill-wise.

“You get tired a lot at point running up and down. Everybody can handle the ball. Anybody can run pretty much any position. Some of our forwards can even be guards. It takes a lot of pressure off. You’re not always stressed. If somebody gets a rebound, you don’t have to look for the ball. One of our other guards can handle it and bring it up the court.”

Elizabethtown (1-0) hosts Nelson County at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“The game was at a really slow pace at the start,” Hay said. “When we came out in the second half it got a lot better.”

The Lady Panthers were 24-for-51 from the floor.

“We had them for 22 turnovers,” Swiney said. “If we can do that on a nightly basis ... we didn’t press the whole game. We pressed a lot in the third quarter because it was successful. We didn’t press much in the second. That shows that we can score when we’re pressing and we can score when we’re not pressing.

“When we scrimmaged Southwestern, we didn’t press a second in that game and we scored 67 points, playing straight man-to-man. That told me right there that this team can score in other ways than just off our defensive pressure and our full-court pressure.

“That’s something good to see this early.”

Mike Mathison can be reached at 270-505-1758 or mmathison@thenewsenterprise.com.

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