MT. PLEASANT — The Mt. Pleasant girls home opener was all tied with just over two-and-a-half miutes left on Friday night, but the Panthers clamped down on defense and scored the last five points of the game to knock off Ft. Madison 35-30.
The last five points of the game were scored by a couple of freshmen, Andrea Lopreato and Tristian Shull. Lopreato scored the eventual game-winner, cutting through the lane and laying the ball in with 2:33 on the clock to give Mt. Pleasant a 32-30 lead. That was the last field goal of the game.
“It was just open, and our passing tonight was really good,” Lopreato said. “The lane was open, Avery (Sutter) passed me the ball, and I scored.”
The Panthers shut the Bloodhounds out in the last two minutes of the game and the two Panther freshmen closed the game out on the free throw line to help move Mt. Pleasant to 1-0 in the Southeast Conference.
“I think it’s just working as a team,” Shull said after the win. “We knew that we can’t be down. We’ve got to get up together, and I think we pulled through pretty well.”
Ft. Madison jumped out to an 11-10 lead after one quarter. Lydia Stewart led Mt. Pleasant with five points in the first quarter, and fellow senior Isabel Ashton had five in the second quarter to help the Panthers grab a 19-18 halftime lead. Mt. Pleasant held Ft. Madison to just four in the third quarter and took a 28-22 advantage into the final period.
Mt. Pleasant played 10 players almost exactly four minutes apiece, subbing five players out midway through each quarter. Coach Curt Watson said he wanted to use his team’s depth to ware their opponents out.
“We wanted to try and tire them down a little bit,” Watson said. “And those second five have been playing really well in the practices, so we felt like we needed to give them a shot at it. They came through in the clutch. I thought all 10 girls we played tonight played hard.”
Stewart and Lopreato co-led the team with nine points apiece. Lopreato also paced the squad with six rebounds.
Ashton scored seven points in the win. Shull had four. Kenna Lamm, Emma Huckabone and Elli Liechty scored two each. Sutter didn’t score but led the team with four assists and two steals.
Mt. Pleasant is now 1-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play. They’ll host West Burlington on Tuesday, Dec. 10.