ROOTSTOWN - Looks can be deceiving.
Though the Bristol Panthers defeated Ledgemont, 61-50, in a Division IV?sectional final at Rootstown High School, the score was much closer than that for a good part of the second half.
Bristol led 30-19 at halftime, but a Legemont jumpshot by Megan Ritts with a minute to go in the third quarter trimmed the Redskins deficit to five points. Ledgemont outscored Bristol 16-10 in the third period, and forced nine Panther turnovers. Bristol led 40-35 going into the fourth quarter.
Ledgemont's Taylor Erskine began the quarter by nailing 2 of 2 from the foul line to cut Bristol's lead to three points.
Bristol then went on a 10-4 run, to push its lead back to 9. Panthers' Laurin Elza split a pair at the foul line to push its lead back to double digits with 2:55 to play in the fourth.
Later in the quarter, Ledgemont went on a 5-0 run, with all points made on free throws. Bristol had a 54-49 lead with 2:15 in the period.
Elza then scored four straight points off of turnovers to push the Panthers lead to 58-49.
Bristol point guard Abbie Pate made 1 of 2 free throws, then Lindsey Elza made a basket in the final closing minute to put the nail in the coffin for the Panthers.
Bristol head coach Lisa Gabrielson stated although the game came down to the end, she liked how her team closed out for the victory.
"I told them they need to control the rebounds, control the ball and the clock," Gabrielson said. "I told them they need to be stingy and choosey on shot selections when we had the ball on offense."
Ledgemont head coach Janet Nikses said that she is proud of the way her squad played against a veteran team in Bristol.
"We fought back every time when we were down 10, 11 12," Nikses said. "I was really proud of the girls. I am looking forward to next year."
Alivia Sidley scored 12 for Ledgemont. Taylor Erskine finished the game with 11 points.
Laurin Elza finished the game with 20 points - 11 of those coming in the first quarter, the other nine in the fourth. Ally Jones posted a double-double for Bristol, scoring 15 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Jones liked how the team regrouped in the fourth to come out with the victory
"We controlled the ball, we had a lot of turnovers but were able to handle it and come out with it in the end," Jones said.
Jones expressed with excitement that she is ready to take on Maplewood.
"We need to work on our press breaking, Maplewood is a quick team, that's something we need to work on" Jones said. "Maplewood is always a good rivalry and a good team. We need to play super hard in order to come out with the win."
Bristol and Maplewood will play Thursday, Feb. 28, at Rootstown High School. Tip-off starts at 7:30 p.m.