Panthers improve to 8-1 with wins over Townies, Bulldogs

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The Division II title game rematch between Johnston and East Providence expectedly came down to the wire last Wednesday night. But, the Panthers were able to erase a 14-point, second-half deficit en route to a narrow, 57-55 win on the Townies’ home floor.

East Providence standout Shaniah Hazard was potentially on her way to a triple-double with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists before fouling out with around seven minutes remaining.

That was exactly the break that Johnston needed, as it was able to dominate play over those final seven minutes, outscoring its adversary by 16 during that stretch.

Gabby DiRaimo scored a game-high 22 points for the Panthers, getting to the line frequently while going 9-for-11 from the charity stripe. Jordan Moretti and Sarah Bandoma were also key contributors with eight points apiece.

In addition to Hazard, Courtney Dorr scored a team-high 15 points for East Providence and Lillian Conti added eight points.

Johnston then traveled to Westerly on Friday night and came away with a 56-43 victory to improve its Division II record to 8-1.

The Bulldogs, who came into the game with just one league loss as well, played a strong first half, with the Panthers holding just one-point lead at 26-25 heading into the break.

However, Johnston proved to be the better team on that night over the final 16 minutes. The Panthers poured in 30 points in the second half while holding Westerly to just 18 points in front of its home crowd to secure the 13-point win.

Moretti netted a game-high 21 points and DiRaimo produced another strong offensive showing with 18 points.

Johnston was set to host Prout (3-6) on Wednesday evening, but results from that game were unavailable at press time. The Panthers will also get a good test on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. when they play at home against Rogers (8-2).

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