PANA — Taylorville sophomores Reagan Morrison and Natalie Snyder tend to give each other a spark.
Morrison fueled a pivotal 15-0 run in the first half while Snyder clinched Monday's 56-52 victory over county rival Pana at the free throw line.
More impressive, both came off the bench and combined for 39 points.
“I think me and Natalie play well together because we've played together since junior high,” Morrison said. “We just click really well when we go in and know what needs to be done.”
Snyder was able to hold off the Panthers in the double bonus with 9.6 seconds left.
After coming up short on her first free throw attempt, she put just enough mustard on the next to bounce it in off the front rim for the two-possession lead.
Snyder shot 6-of-8 at the line in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points.
“They've done that off and on throughout the year,” Taylorville coach Mark Hannant said. “I'm not surprised by that. They had great games today. We probably have nine starters that we can play with.”
Morrison first ignited the Tornadoes to a 21-15 lead in the second quarter after trailing 15-6 in the opening period.
She made her first six shot attempts and posted 15 of her career high 23 points in the first half.
Taylorville (8-13) led 28-27 by halftime.
“Some of the Pana boys were saying stuff to me and that just got me pumped,” said Morrison, who's previous career high was 18 points. “They were trying to make me mad and get me out of my game. I'm so happy we came out with the win.”
Morrison was particularly deadly from 3-point range. She shot 4 of 5 from the perimeter.
“We needed somebody to lead and get the team back together,” Morrison said. “I just tried to come out and get the team together. We moved the ball really well tonight. Some games weren't as good but tonight was a good night. I think tonight we just wanted to beat Pana.”
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Pana (11-11) just wasn't the same after the first quarter.
Senior guard Brooklyn Thompson quickly delivered seven points but picked up two early fouls in the process and missed the entire second quarter. She returned to the court in the second half and still finished with a team high 18 points.
“We started the game great,” Pana coach Jason Storm said. “That was nice. We hit some big shots to start the game and then they started to come back. They really switched it on us. We fought back and made it a game.”
Although the Panthers rallied to a 38-33 lead in the third quarter, Morrison and the Tornadoes didn't buckle under pressure and reclaimed a 50-42 advantage with 2:15 left in the fourth quarter.
Switching it up
Pana initially started out with a stingy man-to-man defense and then came out of halftime with a 2-3 zone defense.
It initially worked, but the Tornadoes started to catch on and finished the third quarter on a 6-0 run.
It's been tough recently for the Class 2A Panthers.
Pana looks like a team with plenty of potential, but it's gone through a rough stretch of games — including the Effingham Tournament.
There, the Panthers went 1-3. They beat Centralia but lost to Vandalia, Greenville and Effingham.
“We just got to keep working,” Storm said. “We didn't have time to practice and we kind of gave them the day off on Saturday. We had kind of a fun, easy practice and tried to recharge them a little. They came out and played all right.
“We need to get back in the gym tomorrow and they know we need to get back in there and work on a few things. I think they're going to come out of practice ready to go after it and I'm looking forward to seeing it.”