Pinewood Prep girls basketball coach Nancy Beatty knows repeating as the SCISA Class AAA girls state champion won't be easy. All she has to do is glance at the brackets of the Porter-Gaud Holiday Classic. A possible battle with rival Northwood Academy looms on the schedule. If the two teams keep winning, the Panthers and Chargers will play at 3:30 p.m. Monday in a semifinal game.
But on Saturday, it was easy. The Panthers, playing in the first game of the tournament, defeated Academic Magnet, 62-49, to advance.
Any time the two schools play, it is a big game. The Panthers played Northwood in the state championship last winter, jumping to an 18-0 lead before holding on for 44-37 victory to cap a 30-4 season.
Northwood Academy, which topped Charleston Math and Science on Saturday, is ranked No. 1 in the latest SCISA poll while the Panthers are No. 3.
The Panthers lost four players from last year's team, including Shelby Brochetti, Kelsey Orvin and Megan Fish.
"We're not as deep as last year," Beatty said. "We have a lot of talent in our first five. We're working to bring everybody together and we're trying to be cohesive. I think this team can be really, really good if we stay healthy. We have great height, great outside shooting. We have the potential to be a great team."
The Panthers have had a couple of injuries. Power forward Jennifer Rhodes played sparingly Saturday because of an ankle injury. The 6-1 junior managed to score seven points. Bri Boyd, another 6-1 junior forward, suffered an apparent shoulder injury against the Raptors.
Pinewood was never threatened. The Panthers led 24-7 at the end of the first quarter and pushed the lead to 39-16 after three. Senior forward Marisa Patton led the winners with 14 points, while Maria Corella chipped in with 11.
Academic Magnet (29): Walls 6, Beauregard 7, Youngblood 4, Gossen 5, Johnson 2, Hagerty 5.
Pinewood Prep (62): Kemp 4, Hendrix 3, Dambaugh 8, Patton 14, Hooks 4, Deas 5, Chester 2, Corella 11, Boyd 4, Rhodes 7.