Nevada Daily Mail
SHELDON -- Homecoming. It's always a night when any sports team wants to perform at its best. The Sheldon Panthers and Lady Panthers basketball teams got the opportunity to do just that when they celebrated Homecoming Friday night.
Under head coach Leon Lowe, Sheldon's girls came into the night winless on the season, but so did Ballard. Both squads knew coming into the night that the seemingly endless woes of what had been a season of futility were about to end for one, but would continue for the other.
The Lady Panthers came into the night without two players due to suspension -- one of whom was a starter -- but that didn't seem to matter as they dominated Ballard right from the start in a 41-19 victory. Both Lowe and Sheldon High School principal Jason Irwin declined to comment about the suspensions.
"I'd rather not put them out there," Lowe said.
The Lady Panthers didn't exactly dazzle the crowd with their offense, but head coach Samie Hill's Bulldogs simply couldn't find the basket for nearly the entire first half. Though Sheldon was only able to put up 19 points, Lowe's squad still found itself in command at the break, holding a 19-2 lead.
Things got much better for Ballard in the second half, but it was too little, too late and the Lady Panthers ultimately went on to take the victory by more points than the Lady Bulldogs scored.
"All in all, you know, coaches sometimes miss out on telling kids how good they are and I mean, you have all that down stuff and you worry about all that negative stuff," Lowe said. "They should be patted on the back for what they tried to do. I was pleased with them."
Little did anyone know at the time, but Sheldon's leading scorer on the night, Destiny Shelton, not only put up as many points on her own (19) as the entire Lady Bulldogs team, but went on to win the title of 2013 Homecoming Queen as well. She was joined in double figures by Alesha Laning, who finished with 13 points.
In the boys' game, Sheldon faced a much stiffer challenge, but still ultimately came out on top by a final score of 56-48. "We didn't play well," Panthers head coach Tyler Judd said.
Despite earning the victory and improving to 8-2 on the season, there wasn't much about Friday night's contest that pleased Judd. Ballard was able to dictate the tempo throughout the majority of the game and despite being in a 10-2 hole early, finished the first quarter with a two-point lead at 17-15.
Sheldon was able to pick up the pressure in the second quarter, however, and that was where things fell apart for the Bulldogs. The Panthers won the second quarter, 21-15, and took a 34-30 lead into the locker room at the break.
The lead continued to build for Sheldon throughout the remainder of the contest as Judd's squad showed an unwavering propensity toward staying right in the faces of Ballard's offensive players. That showed more and more as the game progressed, ultimately resulting in a staggering total of five charges being called against Ballard offensive players.
"I was proud of that," Judd said of his squad's willingness to absorb the contact.
Corey Baney led the offensive effort for the Panthers in one of the few performances with which Judd was pleased, finishing the night with 20 points. "I thought Corey Baney played well," Judd said.
Baney was joined in double figures by Reed Worsley, who finished with 18 points of his own. Sheldon's junior varsity boys played a two-quarter game to kick off the night and completed the sweep with a 26-12 victory.
Both of Sheldon's basketball squads are scheduled to get back into action on Monday, when they open the Appleton City Tournament. The second-seeded Panthers are scheduled to take on fifth-seeded Northeast Vernon County, while the sixth-seeded Lady Panthers square off against top-seeded Montrose.