There’s no place like home for the holidays

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Maddie Down shoots and scores over three Hudson's Bay defenders Monday, at Washougal High School. The senior netted 12 of her 19 points in the second half to help the Panthers beat the Eagles 55-51.

Kendall Utter gave Washougal an early Christmas gift Monday.

After Hudson’s Bay erased a 14-point lead for the Panthers in the fourth quarter, the Washougal High School senior sank her fifth 3-pointer in the game with less than 20 seconds left on the clock. Sara Brown swished two free throws to insure a 55-51 victory for the Panthers.

Utter finished with a team-leading 21 points in the game. She was lethal from long range, and added several steals to her offensive outburst. Her game-winning 3-pointer seemed to stop time as it found its way through the hoop with thunderous applause.

“I thought for sure that one wasn’t going in. I was terrified,” Utter said. “When I saw it go through, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it.”

Neither could the Washougal fans. They went from shock and silence over the lost lead to jubilation when the Panthers got it back.

“I saw a lot of smiling faces,” Utter said. “I’ll always remember the people who were here supporting us.”

Maddie Down delivered 12 of her 19 points in the second half. She also grabbed 13 rebounds and went 5-for-6 from the free throw line in the game.

Brown made 11 of her 12 foul shots for 13 points in the game. Megan Townsend snagged 12 rebounds.

“I’m really happy that we stayed strong and didn’t fall apart,” Utter said. “I just hope everyone can look at the positives and take them into the next game. This is one of the toughest teams we will face, so we should be proud of how we played.”

This was just the first of four home games for the Panthers during Christmas break.

Washougal (5-3) hosts Mountain View tonight, Ridgefield Dec. 27 and Molalla Dec. 29. The Panthers then open league Jan. 6, at home against R.A. Long. All of these games start at 7 p.m.