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Defense helps Forest Park girls frustrate Riverdale 48-32

Photo by Jerry Jackson
Forest Park forward Tamara Brewster looks to score in the third-ranked Lady Panthers’ 48-32 win at Riverdale on Tuesday in a Region 4-AAAA contest.

Photo by Jerry Jackson Forest Park forward Tamara Brewster looks to score in the third-ranked Lady Panthers’ 48-32 win at Riverdale on Tuesday in a Region 4-AAAA contest.

While there may have been angst and trepidation among some Forest Park fans about the possibility of a rare third consecutive loss, the third-ranked Lady Panthers themselves hardly looked worried.

Senior guard Ashlee Cole knocked down a 3-pointer on the game’s first possession, and scored seven of the team’s first nine points as Forest Park jumped out to a seven-point lead and never let up in defeating the Riverdale Lady Raiders 48-32 on Tuesday.

With the win, the Lady Panthers improved to 9-4, 7-0 in Region 4-AAAA play, and broke that pesky two-game losing streak in the process. And while coach Steven Cole was fine with the outcome, he believes that his team’s best ball still could be ahead of them.

“We played well enough to win,” said Cole, whose team played tonight without standout guard Kayla Potts, who is out indefinitely with a knee injury. “But it’s the middle of the season and it’s a little concerning that we’re pretty much in the same place, still trying to see what we can hang our hats on.”

Defense seemed to serve as the hat rack for the Lady Panthers as they trapped and swarmed Riverdale into 23 turnovers — with two separate stretches where the Lady Raiders turned it over on four consecutive possessions.

Cole had four steals to go along with her game-high 17 points and three assists while Tamara Brewster recorded four swipes of her own and 6-foot-1 freshman center Kanisha Tharpe chipped in with two blocked shots to aid the defensive onslaught.

And although the quick hands and feet were frustrating Riverdale, the Lady Panthers’ defensive tenacity — especially at the beginning of the game — was encouraging to Cole.

“We want intensity, especially on defense,” Cole said. “We want to be able to finish each game with the same intensity that we start with.”

Cole’s squad will get its chance to build momentum from this performance on Friday when the Lady Panthers host a Mundy’s Mill squad (8-3, 4-1) hoping to bounce back from a 58-41 loss to Luella on Dec. 29.