It was enough excitement to wake you from even your deepest turkey-induced tryptophan coma.


It was enough excitement to wake you from even your deepest turkey-induced tryptophan coma.
In a Black Friday night match-up, the Black and Red of the Hannibal Lady Pirates hit the boards against the Black and Orange of the Palmyra Lady Panthers in Korf Gymnasium.
And from the start, the Hannibal team found itself looking up at Palmyra. The Lady Panthers came out strong both offensively and defensively, holding the Lady Pirates to just one basket for the majority of the first quarter.
But that did not last for long. Lead by the scoring efforts of Whitney Voepel, with 16 points to her credit in this opening game for the Hannibal girls, the Lady Pirates were battled back the entire game.
“Whitney was a big surprise tonight,” head coach Becky Monachino said. “She made my night. … She was kind of the spark plug that hadn’t seen so much during practices. I think she has decided that she wants to start this season.”
And while the Lady Panthers saw their lead shrink to as little as two midway through the fourth quarter, the defensive plan set up by coach Kent O’Laughlin held its ground and was able to stave off the surge of the Lady Pirates, winning 41-33.
“(Hannibal) did a good job of clogging up the paint,” O’Laughlin said. “They were wanting us to take the outside looks and, early, we hit those. Then we went ice cold and almost shot ourselves out of the game. … But it’s just one of those things where you have to be patient and give it a chance.”
Coming up big for Palmyra was Danielle Boulware, with 14 points, followed closely by Jessica VanNostrand, who had 12 points and went a perfect 2-for-2 from the arch.
The win for Palmyra brings the team to a 2-0 start. Though he is excited about the early success, O’Laughlin understands that this is early in the season.
“We’re thrilled to be 2-0 but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’re 2-0 with two ugly wins. But, if you can win ugly, so be it.”
He also said he is not willing to rest on prior success, pointing out areas that still need improvement in this early stage.
“We’re still trying to learn a system,” O’Laughlin said. “That’s tough. We still need to figure out who meshes with whom and how to transition into defense.”
The Lady Pirates drop to 0-1, but that was not Monachino’s focus as her team walked off the court Friday night.
“It was incredibly exciting for us,” Monachino said. “The girls fought hard and never gave up. … I was thrilled with the way we came out to play. This is a beginning.”
One of the biggest signs of improvement Monachino said she saw in this game was the way her team stepped up when faced with adversity.
“During the junior varsity game, we probably lost one player [Alyson Conn with a probable MCL tear] for the rest of the year,” Monachino said. “But people just stepped right in to fill that spot and that was awesome to see.”
The Lady Pirates next take on St. Dominic in the first round of the Troy tournament at 4 p.m. on Monday.