Pangburn defeated Salem for the second time in the past three weeks on Friday in the semifinals of the 2-2A District Tournament at Tiger Arena.
The third-seeded Lady Tigers built a five-point halftime lead and held off the second-seeded Lady Greyhounds 62-53 behind a combined 40 points from seniors Windy Watts and Kayla Gray.
“It was a big game,” said Pangburn Coach Christie Rolland. “We had split with them this year and the last few games we have not been at the top of our game. It was nice to see the kids come out and play hard. I felt like they were extremely focused and wanted to win this game to get the final round.”
Top-seeded Cedar Ridge, which lost to Pangburn in its last visit to Tiger Arena, beat the Lady Tigers 72-47 in Saturday's championship round, leaving Pangburn as the second seed entering this week's Class 2A North Regional Tournament at Sloan-Hendrix.
Pangburn plays Marked Tree on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the first round. The winner secures a spot in next week's state tournament while advancing to the second round of the regional tournament versus the winner of Marmaduke and Walnut Ridge.
In Friday's victory over Salem, Pangburn opened the game on fire as Gray torched the Lady Greyhounds with 10 points in the first quarter alone, including two long range three-pointers.
Watts added seven points in the first quarter for the Lady Tigers, who took an 18-10 lead when Watts swiped a steal and scored. But Salem closed the period with four straight, including a three-pointer from guard Whitney Ward, slicing Pangburn's lead to four after one quarter of play.
With just over five minutes left in the second stanza, Salem took its first lead since the opening minutes of the game as point guard Paige Hollis ripped a three-pointer out front then Ward added a free throw following a steal by forward Sidney Mitchum.
Down 22-20, Pangburn countered with a 7-0 run ignited by Watts, who hit a 16-foot jumper from right baseline. Post player Morgan Gregg added three free throws, including two after an offensive rebound and Gray sank two more from the charity stripe, boosting the Lady Tigers' lead to five.
Salem guard Hanna Ward hit a jumper in the lane late in the first half, but Gray was fouled 80 feet from the basket with under one second remaining and the senior forward made the Lady Greyhounds pay by knocking down both foul shots for a 29-24 lead at halftime.
Pangburn edged Salem 18-16 in a fast-paced, exciting third quarter as Watts poured in seven points and forward Savannah Tharp added five, while guard Kristen Kerby, Gregg and post player Savanna Jacobs each contributed two points.
Mitchum helped Salem stay within striking distance by scoring nine points in the third quarter and forward Hailey Godfrey added five in the period, including a pull up jumper in the lane that trimmed Pangburn's lead to 47-40 heading into the fourth quarter.
Page 2 of 2 - Salem closed the gap to four near the 6:00 mark of the fourth quarter when Hollis drained a long three-pointer from left elbow, but Gray answered quickly, drilling a deep three-pointer up top off an assist from Watts.
After Whitney Ward canned a 19-foot jumper from top of the arc, Pangburn extended its lead to nine as Gregg drove right baseline for a layup then Watts blew past her defender and down the lane for a layup.
With just over two minutes left, Salem closed within five when Godfrey scored inside off an assist from Whitney Ward, but Watts retaliated with a strong driving layup, plus contact.
Watts completed the old-fashioned three-point play and Pangburn came up with a defensive stand, which led to a pair of free throws by Gray as the Lady Tigers pulled away in the final minute.
Mitchum led Salem (17-7) with 19 points, including 13 in the second half, while Hollis finished with 12 and Godfrey had 11.
Watts scored a game-high 21 points for Pangburn (24-9), Gray followed with 19, Gregg finished with 10 and Tharp added eight.