Prairie Farm suffered its first girls basketball loss of the year while taking on Unity in a battle of unbeaten clubs but rebounded to pick up key conference victories over Shell Lake and Turtle Lake.
The Panthers remain unbeaten in Central Lakeland play, now at 7-0, and are a win away from their first conference title since 1991. Clear Lake sits second at 5-2.
Prairie Farm will clinch a share of the title with one more win and an outright conference championship with two league victories.
The team was hosting Clear Lake (9-3, 5-2) on Tuesday, Jan. 26, and will play a non-conference home game against Frederic (1-13) on Tuesday, Feb. 2. The Panthers are scheduled to round out the regular season with league games against Turtle Lake (5-6, 2-3) Feb. 4 and at Clayton (1-11, 1-6) Feb. 5.
The Panthers, now 12-1 overall, were ranked second in last week’s statewide Div. 5 poll. Black Hawk, is ranked first. The Warriors were undefeated last year and at the state tournament when it was canceled due to COVID-19. They are 14-0 this year and led by Bailey Butler, a senior averaging 29.5 points per game and committed to play basketball at Div. 1 UW-Green Bay.
Unity 57, Prairie Farm 47
Playing in a Lakeland crossover home game on Tuesday, Jan. 19, the Panthers fell to West Lakeland-leading Unity 57-47. Unity, a Div. 3 team, is 15-0 on the year.
“This was a game I wanted for the girls,” coach Dean Kahl said. “Unity is a very talented team with size and has one of the best players in the area, Reagan Sorenson. It was a good chance to see where we were as a team.
“The first half was tight all the way through, ending in a 22-22 tie. I thought we played well in the first half. We did a nice job holding Sorenson to eight points with good team defense.”
The game slipped away in the second half, coach Kahl said, when Sorenson worked to get open in the lane and dropped in another 18 points to finish with 26.
“This game will help us later in the season; it made us stronger,” Kahl said. “I thought we played really hard; we just went through a 5-minute span where we turned the ball over too much and that allowed Unity to push out the lead where we had to gamble with our defenses.”
Senior Makaylin Christenson led the Panthers with 12 points. Marnie Kahl and Sydney Junkans added 10 points apiece.
Prairie Farm 76, Shell Lake 19
The Panthers overpowered the Shell Lake Lakers (2-9, 0-6) at home Friday night, 76-19.
The Panthers ran the floor whenever possible, and when Shell Lake packed the lane with defenders, the Panthers attacked from the outside. Prairie Farm made a half dozen threes in the first half while building a 47-14 lead, and finished with eight for the game.
“The Panther girls celebrated Senior Night for Eryn Bates and Makaylin Christenson with a big conference win against Shell Lake,” the coach said. “Both seniors played a big role in the win, with Makaylin scoring 21 points and Eryn adding 14.
“Tonight, we did a nice job with our fast break offense getting the ball ahead to our scorers. We used the big lead to work on our offensive sets and also a chance to try different half court defenses that we might use later in the season.”
Marnie Kahl made three treys and finished with 16 points. Avery Hansen added 10 points, while no Laker scored more than five.
“We shared the ball very well tonight, seeing four Panthers scoring in double digits,” the coach said. “It was a fun night for our seniors; Eryn and Makaylin have given our team so much over the years.”
Prairie Farm 73, Turtle Lake 26
Friday night’s trend continued Monday, Jan. 25, at Turtle Lake, where the Panthers were up 46-14 by halftime of a 73-26 blowout.
“The girls played one of their best games of the year,” coach Kahl said. “We really played a complete game from start to finish. Our defense was smothering; the girls swarmed the ball all night, creating a lot of steals and turnovers.
“I thought we rebounded very well also, which led to countless fast break opportunities. We talk a lot about where we want to be as a team. Tonight, we took a big step forward to reach our goals.”
Marnie Kahl made two of the Panthers’ four threes and led a balanced attack with 22 points. Christianson added 21 points, while Hansen and Bates each netted 13.
“Marnie Kahl led us with 10 rebounds, Avery Hansen with six steals and Makaylin Christensen with four assists in a balanced team effort,” the coach said. “The girls ran the court hard all game and were rewarded with a 73-26 victory.”