VEEDERSBURG - The Southmont Lady Mounties got off to the start they wanted Tuesday evening in their opening round Sectional 38 game against Riverton Parke. However, the Panthers second half shooting allowed them to escape South's upset bid with a 41-38 victory.

The Mounties were impressive in the first quarter, allowing Riverton Parke only one field goal. Aarika McKinsey had seven, and Marlowe McVay, who made her first appearance in six weeks, hit a 22-foot three, as time expired, to give South the 10-2 lead.

"We got down 22-8 the first time we played them (a January 3 loss, 60-52)," said Mountie coach Susan McVay. "So, tonight's quick start was an emphasis for us."

The Panthers were able to make it a 1-point game with a minute gone by in the second quarter. However, six points by Kasey Burton, and four by Avery Hess, allowed the Mounties to take a 21-13 lead to the locker room.

That was without the services of Brittany Barrett and McKinsey. Barrett picked up her third foul, and McKinsey her second, midway through the quarter.

"Brittany plays hard, so I can't fault some of her fouls," said McVay. "We need our main kids on the floor to be successful. The fact that we maintained, and went in with the lead, was nice."

Southmont shot 40 percent from the field, and held the Panthers to just 12 percent, in the first half. They also out rebounded Riverton Parke 24-10.

The Panthers opened up the second half on an 8-2 run to trim the lead to 23-21. However, South would close the quarter, on a 6-3 run, to take a 29-24 lead into the final stanza.

The fourth quarter belonged to Riverton Parke's Tayler Vauters. She would put her team on her back scoring 10, of her game high 25, in the quarter.

South took their last lead, 32-31, on a Reagan Case free throw at the 6:34 mark.

Barrett's second three of the game, and South's only fourth quarter field goal, tied things back up at 35. However, she was whistled for her fifth foul the next time down the court.

Southmont's 3-point attempt at the buzzer was wide, and the Panthers escaped with the 41-38 victory.

"We played back on our heels in the second half and played not to lose," commented McVay. "We didn't make shots when we had a chance, and missed free throws.

"I can't be anything but positive on how hard they battled," continued McVay. "Everyone did positive things tonight."

The loss marked the end to the career of senior Aarika McKinsey. She finished with eight points and nine rebounds.

"She's held this team together this year" said McVay. "There aren't many teams that win four games that still like each other. She refused to quit, and she didn't let anyone else quit either. That's going to be a big hole in our program."

Riverton Parke (16-9) advances to Friday's semi-final game where they'll face South Vermillion (6-15). They shot 50 percent in the second half and were led by Vauters 25.

Southmont (4-18), who shot 17 percent in the second half, were led by Burton's 10 points and eight boards. Peyton Endicott and McKinsey each had 9 caroms.

"I think our future's bright," added McVay. "I hope this leaves a bitter taste in their mouth, and gives them a reason to fight for next season."