Panthers ready to bounce back quickly

NORMAL — The words were barely out of the reporter's mouth: "How long will it take to forget about this game and get ready for the third-place game?"

LeRoy High School junior Lauren Russell knew immediately there would be no waiting.

"It's already behind us," she said.

Through 31 games this season, the Panthers' girls' basketball team has never lost consecutive games. The team intends to keep it that way.

"We want to be one of the two teams (in Class 1A) that ends with a win," LeRoy senior Molly Marcum said.

The Panthers (27-4) face Glasford Illini Bluffs (29-6) in today's IHSA Class 1A third-place game at noon on Illinois State University's Doug Collins Court.

Marcum had all the incentive she needed when the buzzer sounded ending Friday's semifinal game with a 56-42 semifinal setback against Freeport Aquin.

"Losing (stinks)," Marcum said, "no matter whether it's the first game of the year or in the state championship game. We know what it feels like to be punched in the mouth.

"We'll come back (today) with a superb defense that will lift us."

The Friday loss changed Marcum's outlook on LeRoy's first state tournament appearance in the sport.

"Yesterday, I would have said it was amazing, an incredible feeling," she said, "but we needed to win."

That opportunity will present itself today, one last time.

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