Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2013, 9:28 am

UT pulls away in the fourth

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By Dan Tomlin, dtomlin@qconline.com

It was a fourth quarter to remember for the United Township High School girls basketball team as the Panthers rushed past Quincy in a pivotal Western Big 6 Conference matchup.

The Panthers closed the game on a 14-2 run, winning 56-39 to set up next week's showdown with WB6-undefeated Rock Island.

The Panthers (12-7, 5-1 in the WB6)will host Rock Island (19-2, 6-0) Thursday with the winner holding the key to the WB6 title. The two teams were co-champions last year, and Rock Island won a 56-51 thriller in their first meeting.

"It'll be a good game," UT standout Jen VanWatermeulen said. "I hope we play well and it's a good game."

The win over Quincy, could hardly be described as "good.''UT was a horrible 22-percent from the field through the first three quarters, but went 6-for-11 in the fourth to seal the deal. Jen VanWatermeulen led the Panthers with a game-high 16 points and ripped away six steals.

Not usually looked upon as an offensive threat, Jen VanWatermeulen got UT rolling by scoring seven points in the opening frame. The Blue Devils did a good job of taking away Jamie VanWatermeulen, Tayler Dobrinske and Katie Daggett, who were a combined 0-for-12 in the first quarter. But the rest of the Panthers stepped up.

"I can't remember a single Thursday since I've been coaching that it was pretty," UT coach Justin Shiltz joked. "We made plays when we had to and turned a close game into a rout."

Daggett became a huge factor as the opposing centers played up to their billing. Daggett recorded a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds despite not making a basket in the opening 29 minutes. She finished with just two buckets.

Quincy center Jordan Fletcher scored 14 points and added a game-high six blocks as she patrolled the paint a final time in East Moline.

The Blue Devils (9-8, 1-5) forced the Panthers to play up-tempo and had UT out of its rhythm often. The Panthers calmed down and took control in the final period, though, outrebounding Quincy 11-6 to add to their 41-28 advantage on the boards.

"We were struggling in the beginning looking for good shots," Jen VanWatermeulen said. "Every Big 6 game is going to be physical, so you have to be tough. You have to be able to rebound and make free throws."

In those categories, UT dominated. From the free-throw line, the Panthers were 21-for-25 while Quincy was an awful 3-for-14. Twice, Quincy was standing on the free throw line with the chance to take the lead and missed all 4 tries.

"We're not handling adversity well right now," Quincy coach Demond Dade said. "United Township is disciplined and well-coached and we just couldn't shake them."