Girls' basketball: P-C’s breakout season ends just shy of regional final
A historic senior class couldn’t quite deliver in the clutch despite a double-digit first half lead.
The Paton-Churdan basketball team surrendered an eight-point halftime advantage in their regional semifinal loss Feb. 19, eventually falling in a 60-53 defeat against CAM.
The Rockets (16-6) entered the Class 1A, Region 2 semifinal riding high off their most wins in more than 10 years, but struggled to pick up their second win over the Cougars in three meetings this winter.
The loss catapulted CAM (17-6) to the regional final to face-off against two-time defending state champion Newell-Fonda while Paton-Churdan’s season came to a disheartening end.
P-C charged out to a commanding lead in the opening half - at one point ballooning to 12 points - scoring 20 points in the second quarter, which led to a 30-22 advantage at the break.
The Cougars woke up offensively in the second half, opening the third with a 9-0 run before pouring in a remarkable 26 points in the victory-clinching fourth quarter.
The Rockets were held to just 23 second half points, including a mere five points in the third quarter. Despite those inefficiencies, P-C still clung to a one-point lead entering the fourth, 35-34. CAM opened the final frame with a 7-0 run, outscoring the Rockets 26-18 over the last eight minutes.
The Rockets had defeated the Cougars by 13 in January while the Cougars secured revenge in the regular season finale, 52-44. The rubber match was yet another tense battle.
CAM shot a blistering 47 percent from the field while nailing seven of their 20 three-point attempts. CAM forced 14 steals in the narrow victory. The Cougars were led by Eva Steffensen. The freshman tallied 19 points - 16 in the second half, aided by a pair of three-pointers and four assists.
Paton-Churdan’s leading scorer, Danielle Hoyle, who entered the game averaging 23.3 points per contest, was held to just six first half points.
The P-C senior class graduates as one of the greatest to ever do it, tallying a staggering 31 wins in the last two years. Since the beginning of the 2018-19 schedule, the Rockets have won 44 games leading to three straight winning seasons - their best three year run in more than 14 years. Seniors Danielle Hoyle, Tessa Steimel, Karissa Stephenson, Hannah Bundt and Chloe Berns have been a part of 54 wins in their varsity careers.
Hoyle graduates after compiling one of the more spectacular four year careers in county history. The senior was top 15 in Class 1A in four different categories this winter - averaging 23.3 points per game (second), 3.7 blocks per game (fourth) and 11.2 rebounds per game (seventh) while knocking down shots at a 70.3 percent clip, which was the top mark in the state. Hoyle also nailed an average of 3.3 free throws per contest, which ranked her 18th in the state. Hoyle graduates having scored 1,548 career points (second in P-C history) to go with 952 rebounds and a likely school-record 346 blocks. Hoyle is just the second Rocket athlete to surpass 1,000 career points, only behind Carleigh Paup, who holds the all-time P-C record with 1,833 points scored.
Fellow Class of 2021 senior Tessa Steimel was P-C’s most-consistent three-pointer shooter over the last few years, wrapping up her career with 129 total made three-pointers.