A slow start doomed the Portland Lady Panthers against the powerful Westmoreland Lady Eagles Tuesday night.

Westmoreland held the Lady Panthers scoreless in the first quarter en route to a 51-23 victory.

The Lady Eagles jumped out to 21-0 lead after the first period. Portland’s offense found the basket in the second period as the Lady Panthers went to halftime trailing 35-9.

Lady Panthers coach Scott Steinbrecher said his team simply could not make shots early in the game as they tried to handle the Lady Eagles’ full-court press.

“That’s one of the things we talked about. We’ve got to be able to handle their blitz early in the game,” Steinbrecher said. “They’re very athletic and they can get up and down the court. I thought we executed OK against (the press) early, but we just didn’t make shots, and they made theirs.”

Portland’s offense scored seven points in the third quarter, as the score was 46-16 at the end of the frame.

Reserves played most of the final quarter for both squads as the Lady Eagles claimed the victory.

Jenna Towles paced the Lady Panthers in scoring with six points, while Cheyenne Gregory and Rayleigh Hester scored four points apiece. Aleena Wagner had three points for the Lady Panthers, while Ashley Vanatta, Karlee Clayton and Kayla Wasilko all scored two points apiece for Portland.

Westmoreland’s Bayleigh Norman led all scorers in the game with 20 points.

Steinbrecher said that despite the lopsided score, his team got some much needed work in the second half against a good team, something that can help his team when district play begins this week.

“The second half, everybody knew the game was over, and we weren’t coming back, but we were still able to work on the things that we need to work on to get ready for district play,” Steinbrecher said. “You can’t simulate their speed and athleticism in practice. So we’ve loaded our schedule with teams like that so we can adjust to that type of speed, and it’ll help us when we aren’t playing teams that are that fast. That’s one of the best teams in 2A, and probably the most athletic team on our schedule.”

Portland was slated to play White House Heritage Friday night, but that game was postponed due to the snowstorm that hit on Thursday.

The Lady Panthers were scheduled to host district foe Montgomery Central on Tuesday night and then travel to Greenbrier for another district contest on Friday.

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