Late free throws help Mt. Pleasant girls hold off Osky
The Mt. Pleasant girls’ basketball team hit late free throws to hold on to a narrow lead in a 50-47 nonconference win over Oskaloosa on Tuesday night in Mt. Pleasant.
The Panthers led the whole way but could never quite shake the Indians.
They took a 22-19 lead into halftime and went up by as many as nine points in the third quarter; Oskaloosa, however, refused to give up.
The Indians cut the lead to as little as one point in the fourth quarter, and they kept fighting until the last second of the game, when MaKena Veldhuizen — who finished with a game-high 29 points — heaved a shot from beyond half court.
It bounced off the backboard as time expired in the Mt. Pleasant win.
The Panthers made six free throws in the last 1:30 of the fourth quarter to hold on to their lead. Leslie Taylor, Taryne Shull, Natalie Myers, Kelsi Phipps and Natalie Ita each took turns at the line.
“We were making free throws a little better down the stretch,” said Coach Joanna Settles.
The Panthers put Oskaloosa on the line a few times, too, and foul trouble kept Ita, one of the Panther starters, on the bench for a while.
“I told her, ‘We need you in the game!’” Settles said. “Phipps and Ita on the boards were key to the win.”
The pair combined for 19 rebounds on the night.
Ita also led the team in scoring with 13 points; Mary Wester contributed 12.
“(Oskaloosa) really keyed in on Taryne (Shull), and tried to shut her down,” Settles said. “But we have a lot of players that will step up. Mary Wester had a great game.”
Phipps also scored in double figures, putting up 11 points for the Panthers.
Natalie Myers tallied eight points, and with the tight defense focused on her, Shull chipped in four points. Taylor and Hannah Becker had one point each.
After dropping the first two games of the season to ranked Class 5A opponents, the Mt. Pleasant girls have now won five of their last six games, including the last three straight. They are 5-3 overall and remain 2-1 in the Southeast Conference.
They will look for their fourth straight win against West Branch on Thursday when they kick off a varsity girls’ and boys’ doubleheader at 6 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant Community High School.