Alyssa Bunchell

Alyssa Bunchell drives to the hoop for the Northern Potter girls in a loss to Port Allegany in their season finale.

Ten. Count ’em; ten! Out of a dozen players this season, Northern Potter’s women’s basketball squad will have 10 returning freshmen and sophomores from this year, on the 2020/21 team. That makes a 50-37 season-ending loss to a very tough Port Allegany team at Ulysses on Tuesday, Feb. 11 more reason for hope than for tears.

With Northern Potter finishing the season at 5-13 overall, and 5-10 in the conference, and with Port’s Gators (who finished the regular season at 16-6, 13-3, respectively, taking a conference win on Tuesday, the contest was certainly not a matter of “what ifs,” acknowledged Panther head coach Cindy Cowburn, who pointed out the outstanding squad that promises high hopes for at least the next two seasons.

“A lot of promise coming back,” is how Cowburn viewed the 2020/21 squad.

No miracles occurred on Tuesday, as the Gators seemed to surge whenever Northern Potter came close. Both teams exhibited brutal defense, with the invaders from McKean County seemingly in a fight for life at times.

While Aubrey Anderson and Courtney Martin each popped ten points for the Panthers, Port’s Bree Garzel (16 points) and Cailey Barnett (12) set the pace.

Port led, 9-6, after the first quarter, and by 21-18, at the half. The Gators outscored Northern Potter, 13-6, in the third period to help ice the game, holding a 34-24 lead. after three.