DIXON — United Township’s Jade Hunter and Jasmine Bell came one point away from outscoring two opposing teams in two wins on Thursday.
Starting the day with a 63-41 win over Byron at Reagan Middle School before a 59-38 win over Rockford Guilford later in the afternoon, the Panthers (4-10) doubled their win total on the season to reach the semifinals of the Dixon-KSB Holiday Classic.
UT faces Carmel today at 6 p.m. at Dixon High School with a trip to the finals on the line. Riverdale plays Dixon in the opposite semifinal after also opening with a pair of victories on Thursday.
In UT’s 22-point win over Byron, Hunter had 26 points and 17 rebounds. Bell scored 19 as the Panthers held the opposition to 41 points.
“If both of us are having a good game, then good things are going to happen,” Hunter said.
She added that getting up and down the floor also helped key the win a day after Christmas.
“And we weren’t forcing things as much as usual,” said Hunter, whose team had 14 turnovers, fewer than what had previously been the norm.
Hunter (20 points) and Bell (18 points) kept the chemistry rolling in UT’s second game, matching Rockford Guilford’s 38 points by themselves.
“We know we’ve got two that can score, it’s finding those extra players who can contribute as well,” UT coach Carie Walker said. “Our goal has always been three players putting double digits on the board, or at least contributions from two or three others to total that.”
UT has done that in putting together three straight wins. Davi Morgan had eight points, six steals, and three assists in the second win and Madison Gordon had eight points and seven boards in the opener. Morgan finished the day with 13 steals.
“We’re getting contributions from everybody on the team right now,” Walker said, “and I think that’s been the secret to the success we’ve had lately.”
Rams win twice: The Riverdale Rams opened play at the Dixon-KSB Holiday Classic with a pair of victories, beating Rockford East 64-30 and then topping the day with a 43-27 victory over Western Big 6 Conference rep Sterling.
“With two games in a relatively short turnaround — we played at 10:30/4:30 — took a lot of mental toughness and working hard,” said coach Jay Hatch after his club moved to 10-1. “It was fun to see our kids come through like that.”
In the victory over Sterling, Hatch reported that the game was tied at 24 “relatively late in the third quarter” before his girls pulled away. “We made some shots and our defense started limiting them to one shot. I think our depth maybe came through for us,” he said.
So did Shae Hanrahan who popped for a season-high 16 points. That came on the heels of Sidney Garrett's season-high 20 points in the blowout of the E-Rabs. In that game, Lauren Lodico added 11 points.
Tom Johnston contributed to this report
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