The Portland girls stayed within striking distance, but couldn’t overtake the visiting Mt. Juliet Golden Bears in dropping a 52-38 decision in district action Friday night.

Mt. Juliet, a regular participant in the TSSAA state tournament each year, led throughout the game, but the Purple refused to quit.

However, the Golden Bears, behind a strong inside game and the sharp shooting from the 3-point line by Julia Maki, allowed the visitors to leave with the victory.

“They shot the ball well tonight,” PHS coach Miranda Cravens said. “Mt. Juliet had good offensive play inside and outside.”

Cravens was pleased with her team’s effort and noted that the Lady Panthers had some opportunities to cut the lead to single digits.

“Two times we should have capitalized on their turnovers and didn’t,” Cravens pointed out. “We played hard but are still struggling offensively.”

Mt. Juliet made seven, 3-point shots in the game while the Lady Panthers had a pair.

“We are struggling to score,” Cravens explained.

The Purple were outshot 19-12 from the field.

Senior Mackenzie Trouten did reach double figures with 19 points while Rachel Jennings scored eight and Mac Craddock followed with five. Demaria Bell contributed four and Sami Parker netted two.

Emma Palmer led all scorers with 20 and Maki added 15.

It was Maki with the hot hand early with a trio of 3-point shots that put the Golden Bears on top early. The Purple did stay close and trailed by two on a Jennings layup. Trouten sank a pair of couple shots for a 13-10 difference.

Maki closed out the first quarter by launching a shot from beyond the 3-point stripe and the visitors were on top 16-10.

Mt. Juliet went up by ten 20-10 on two Palmer inside buckets. Bell drained two free throws and Cradock bombed a 3-pointer and Trouten’s 3-point play left PHS behind 26-18. Palmer added four more points to her total before Craddock weaved through the defense for two points.

The Golden Bears finished up the half on a 3-point shot for a 33-20 edge at intermission.

After a Palmer shot opened the third quarter, Trouten fired in a 3-pointer and Parker made a shot to trim the deficit by ten, 35-25. Mt. Juliet scored five straight before Bell scored at the 1:54 mark. Trouten would later record a 3-pointer and the Lady Panthers trailed 41-30.

Mt. Juliet opened the final eight minutes of play with five unanswered points but shots by Trouten and Jennings left the Purple trailing by 12, 46-34.

However, the Lady Panthers would get no closer as Palmer scored four straight to put the game away.

On Dec. 6, the Purple lost to Station camp 62-40 in a District 9-AAA contest. Portland trailed at the end of the first quarter 15-8 and were behind 33-17 at halftime. The Lady Bison outscored the Purple 17-8 in the third period to coast to the victory.

“Station Camp was very quick and we turned the basketball over too many times,” Cravens said. “That gave them extra possessions. We didn’t rebound and they killed us in rebounding.”

Trouten led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 21 points with Cradock scored eight and Haley Dickens had six. Jennings finished with four and Bell rounded out the offense with one. Trouten and Craddock each registered a pair of 3-point shots.

Olivia Delk paced the Lady Bison with 21 points.

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