Summer Pennington couldn’t have picked a better time to have a career game.
Pennington scored a career high 22 points to lead No. 1 Cheyenne-Reydon to a 49-43 come from behind win over No. 6 Sterling Thursday at State Fair Arena in the opening game of the Class A girls state tournament.
“It was the perfect time,” said Cheyenne coach Brad Thrash. “We really needed her. She was our offense for a long time.”
Cheyenne (26-4) trailed 17-6 early in the second quarter before Pennington started making buckets. The 5-10 junior, who was averaging just 6.1 points per game entering the state tournament, didn’t score in the first period.
But Pennington scored 16 of Cheyenne’s 20 points over a 10-minute stretch in the second and third quarters to keep the Lady Bears in the game.
“She shot the ball really well,” Thrash said. “They left her open and she shot it with a lot of confidence.”
Her bucket with 4:37 left in the game gave Cheyenne a 36-34 lead, the Lady Bears’ first since the first possession of the game.
“We tried not to let it get to us,” Pennington said of being down by 11 in the first half. “We knew we could come back. Our defense is what we rely on and we just counted on that.”
Pennington’s shooting and Cheyenne’s defense turned the tide for the Lady Bears. Pennington was 11 of 15 from the field and the Lady Bears’ defense had six steals and forced 16 Sterling turnovers.
Morgan Latta’s steal that she turned into a bucket and 3-point play with 29 seconds left gave the Lady Bears a 45-39 lead and sealed the victory for Cheyenne.
The defensive pressure and forcing turnovers was key, Thrash said.
“We weren’t scoring on offense other than Summer so we had to get something going on defense to give ourselves enough possessions,” he said. “We struggled so much early. We kept fighting. We just kept running guards in there on top of them and I think they finally got a little tired.”
Madeline Jacobi scored 18 for Sterling (25-4) and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Laurie Derrico added 14 points.