DELTA TWP. — Maddie Petersen is viewed as a fearless on the court.
The DeWitt sophomore typically doesn’t let things get to her when between the lines.
And that was important Friday night for the Class A No. 6-ranked Panthers.
Petersen hit several key free throws while helping the DeWitt maintain its grasp on first place in the CAAC Red with a 55-52 victory over Waverly at Phil Odlum Gymnasium.
Petersen had nine points – all from the free-throw line – and put DeWitt ahead for good with a pair of makes from the charity stripe with 2:01 remaining.
“We needed points and it really helped us out,” Petersen said of her made free throws.
FRIDAY NIGHT HOOPS COVERAGE
Petersen also made a pair of free throws with 25.6 seconds left as DeWitt (16-1, 7-1 CAAC Red) won its ninth straight and avenged its only loss of the season while taking a 1.5 game lead atop the league standings over the Warriors (10-7, 5-2).
“(Maddie) really just doesn’t care and she lets it go and she plays basketball,” DeWitt junior Grace George said. “That’s what we really need. We need someone out there that doesn’t worry, and that we know we can count on. That’s really important to have, especially in a younger player like Maddie.”
George finished with a game-high 22 points and had a big fourth quarter while helping the Panthers erase a seven-point deficit with 7:41 remaining to pick up the key victory.
“We play in such a tough league and there’s a lot of really good teams,” DeWitt coach Bill McCullen said. “We’ve been talking ever since we lost January 6 that we had to do our job and we had to keep winning to give ourselves a chance to be in position to hopefully not only get back into first place, but hopefully get a lead (in the league) here tonight. We’ve got two left and we’ve got some work to do., but this is obviously a really big win on the road.”
Waverly had some opportunities in the final stages to pull even, but squandered some chances at the free-throw line and missed baskets inside as its quest for its first league title since 2005 took a hit.
“There were a few plays there that we’d like to have back obviously and a few possessions where I probably could have used a timeout and got us a little bit settled down,” Waverly coach John Schweitzer said. “In those big games, your heart is beating fast and as a player, you’re going to lose your wind a little bit sooner. I think there is a situation there where DeWitt has been playing in a few of these games over the years. This was our first big one in this way. We’re going to improve and we’re going to learn from this. We’ll be better. We’ve got them in a couple of weeks.”
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.