(MOUND CITY, Mo.) Despite a new coach and quite a bit of inexperience on the floor for Mound City, the Panthers found a way to turn in an impressive first month of the basketball season.
"There's something about this team, the chemistry," senior Alex Phillips said. "I feel like we really work well together."
The Panthers are coming off a 20-5 season that ended with a 39-29 loss in the district championship game to St. Joseph Christian.
Things are different now with Derek Petty in his first year as head coach at Mound City. Petty's been a part of three district titles already in his career, and he has installed a system that is allowing Phillips and fellow senior Haylee Clifton to flourish.
Phillips is averaging 18 points per game while shooting 48-percent from 3-point range, and Clifton adds 11 points and 3 assists per contest.
"He lets us play our kind of game," Phillips said. "He doesn't put a lot of limitations on it, it's not always going from point A to point B. I like to be able to think of new ways to get past my defender, and not having an offense that's so contained really allows me to use those moves."
Petty's real focus for the Panthers comes on the defensive side of the ball.
"You won't always be a high-scoring team," Petty said. "You're not always going to be shooting real well, but you never have break downs on defense. You never have a bad game on defense, or at least you shouldn't. If you put out the right kind of effort, you can play defense."
That defense has held four of the Panthers last five opponents under 40 points, and they are doing it with a young group that only has three seniors.
"I think we just kind of took it as a challenge," Phillips said. "People really underestimated us this year, and I think we just wanted to go out and show that we can still lead our team the best, and help get these freshmen girls to learn."
"They've done a great job as leaders for me," Petty said. "Even the young girls have been helping each other out. We're all in this together. It's a learning process, and as of right now it's worked for us."
Mound City hopes it continues to work, so they can bring home its first district title since 2007.
"The past three years I've ended up with a second place trophy," Phillips said. "So getting a first place one would be pretty nice."
The Panthers journey back to a state title continues January 4th against North Nodaway.