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It wasn’t the prettiest of wins – as it rarely is when two B-South teams get together – but when Point Boro and Manchester met up for the second straight time, this time with a trip to the WOBM Christmas Classic Semifinals on the line, it was the Panthers avenging their earlier loss with a dominant second-half that gave Boro a 61-54 win.

Responding with composure and timely plays in the second half, following a first half that featured anything but, Panthers’ Seniors Ally Lassen and Megan Hughes scored 16 and 13 points respectively. Lassen also grabbed timely rebounds on both ends of the floor, while Hughes’ only field goals were three timely triples.

Neither team would find any flow in the first half, as the officiating played a part with well over 20 total fouls turning the first 16 minutes of play from the Pine Belt Arena into a foul shooting contest. Point Boro would leave 12 points at the line in this half, while Manchester missed 8 times from the stripe.

Kemari Reynolds scored 12 of her game-high 25 points in the first quarter though, as Manchester took full advantage of Boro turnovers and lapses on defense to frustrate their divisional rivals early – leading 16-11 after one.

Hughes would begin to pull the Panthers back into this game with her second 3-point shot at 6:50 in the second quarter, pulling Boro within two. Manchester would still comfortably add to their lead though, with Reynolds, Dejah Adams, and Serenity Anderson attacking the rim relentlessly to draw fouls and convert from in close.

It took Kate Letergez – an impressive freshman starter for Point Boro – finding Senior Ally Lassen inside with five minutes to play in the third to finally give the Panthers the lead, but they would not look back after jumping ahead 31-30.

“It was easy to watch these girls stay motivated throughout the game. we did not want the same outcome as thursday.” – Coach Drew

Coach David Drew’s team would find a way to play great team defense without fouling in the second half, frustrating Manchester on the perimeter with fresh legs at the guard position. Letergez finished with 16 points of her own, 10 of which came in the second half.

Lassen and Hughes would both make highlight plays in the fourth quarter to set up a Point Boro vs Red Bank Regional WOBM Semifinal, as Lassen followed up a post basket with a big defensive rebound that led to two Letergez foul shots. Later, Hughes put the Panthers up by nine with a three in response to Reynolds’ trey with 3:30 left to play.

Boro shot 8 of 17 on free throws in the fourth quarter, which was good enough to earn them this victory.

I talked to Megan Hughes following the game, and you can hear from her right here:

On the veteran presence that Hughes and Lassen provided in support of their younger teammates, Coach Drew added this –

“Senior Leadership is everything, and they are absolutely giving it to us. meg had a nice game tonight and hit a couple of big shots for us. Kate is starting to understand how important she is going to be in our offense and on our team, i’m so proud for her.” – Coach Drew

The 2016 WOBM Christmas Classic Semifinals will tip off at 6:15 PM on Wednesday night from the Pine Belt Arena. NJSportsReport.com will have live coverage.