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Fourth quarter rally falls short for Panthers in loss to Monticello

Pinnacle's Taje Richardson attempts to shoot over a Monticello defender during the first half. Richardson finished with a team-high 23 points and 6 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
Pinnacle High's Dalton Rudman plays defense during the first half. Rudman was held without a made 3-pointer in Pinnacle's 64-55 loss to Monticello on Friday night.
Pinnacle High head coach Andrew Olson watches intently from the sideline during the second half of Pinnacle 64-55 loss to Monticello.

Sun Advocate sports reporter

Down by as many as 11 points late in the second half, the Pinnacle High Panthers faced an uphill battle to get back in the game. Despite cutting the Monticello lead to three points late in the fourth quarter, turnovers doomed the Panthers' chances of a win as Monticello walked away with a 64-55 win on Friday night.

The Panthers were able to cut the deficit down to three on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter. Senior Jake Hardy hit a layup with 1:56 remaining to make it 58-55. After a Monticello turnover following a Pinnacle High time-out, the Panthers had a chance to carve into the lead or tie the game. However the Panthers committed turnovers on four of their last five possessions leaving them with a bitter feeling once the final horn sounded.

"We had our opportunities in the end, but we had too many turnovers," said PHS head coach Andrew Olson. Olson said he was proud of the fact that the Panthers battled back from a double-digit deficit to be in position for a chance to win.

Monticello lead 48-37 with 3:30 left in the third quarter. The Panthers went on a 9-4 run to close the quarter as the raucous crowd at the Pinnacle High Gymnasium began to get louder as the Panthers inched closer to making a comeback.

However, Monticello used a combination of their size advantage down low and hitting their open shots in the final quarter to help take down the Panthers.

The Monticello defense wasn't too shabby either. They face guarded Pinnacle's 3-point shooting specialist Dalton Rudman all game long, not allowing him to get many open looks from behind the arc. Rudman finished with five points and did not have any made 3-pointers for only the second time this season.

"They kept Dalton in check for the whole game, not allowing him to get any open looks," Olson said. "

While the loss stings, Olson said the Panthers will take the result in stride. He expects the team to fix a few kinks with their fast-paced, high scoring offense as they head into their final five games.

"The loss will be good for us to learn from," he explained. "We slowed down on offense in the game. We need to be going full speed for the entire game and we can't be in the habit of just watching the guards handling the ball."

Pinnacle (12-4 overall, 5-2 Region 19) will return to action on Wednesday night as they will host Grand High at 7 p.m. at the Pinnacle High Gymnasium.

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