The Tigers dropped both ends of a CCAA doubleheader versus visiting Prairie Home, but it isn't a lack of effort which has twin 20-loss campaigns. The girls' program suffers from the loss of its 2012 season, with only one experienced player, while the boys brought back only two starters and are counting heavily on a pair of freshmen.
The Lady Panthers' press caused Malta Bend problems to begin the opener, producing a 13-0 run en route to a 61-19 victory. However, the Lady Tigers rallied after the initial blitz.
Junior Danielle Kiser, who saw action a year ago with the boys' team, got Malta Bend on the board with a conventional three-point play with 4:40 left in the first quarter. Prairie Home added only three points to its lead the rest of the period.
A pair of three-pointers from senior Katlynn Watson boosted the Lady Panthers' lead to 24-3 before Kiser struck from inside and made another lay-up and free throw.
Freshman Abby Gass rejected a pair of Prairie Home shots and converted on the offensive glass, while Kiser had a block and a steal -- making a pair of freebies with cut the deficit to 29-13 with under three minutes remaining in the first half.
However, four straight Lady Tiger turnovers allowed the margin to increase to 21 points at the break. The Lady Panthers' 18-4 spree during the third quarter put the contest away.
Freshman Mikayla Zey scored 15 of her game-high 20 points for Prairie Home (8-12, 1-2 CCAA) during the second half. Watson had 17 points and senior Kendra Stinson added 16.
Kiser finished with 13 points to pace Malta Bend (0-20, 0-5).
The Tigers led once during their 74-37 loss, when senior Danny Kiehl drilled a perimeter jumper a minute into the game.
The Panthers answered with six straight lay-ups before Kiehl hit another bomb midway through the first frame. Prairie Home reeled off eight straight points, including a breakaway dunk by senior Trevor Huth, before freshman Larry Edde banked in a close-range hook in the closing seconds of the period.
Kiehl struck from outside early in the second quarter, but the Panthers went on a 13-2 run and took a 31-point lead into halftime.
The margin continued to grow during the second half, with the final stanza becoming a three-point shooting contest -- in which the Tigers prevailed over the Prairie Home bench, 4-2.
Huth was nearly unstoppable for the Panthers (11-10, 1-2), scoring 18 points in barely over two quarters of play, while sophomore Sam Distler providing 16 points.
Kiehl wound up with 15 points and freshman Trent Horn had seven for Malta Bend (1-21, 0-5), which hasn't won since defeating Breckenridge, 41-21, for fifth place in the Hardin-Central Tournament in November.
The Tigers will travel to Jefferson City on Friday for a first-time meeting with Calvary Lutheran.