'She's one of us': Confident junior solidifies role with state-ranked Pana girls basketball
Anna Beyers’ effort speaks for itself.
The Pana junior girls basketball player not only contributes in every statistical category, but the guard also brings that same relentless drive to every practice and every drill as the state-ranked Panthers play for a spot in the Class 2A state finals.
“Any type of drill we're doing she gives it her all and it really helps push the other players,” Pana coach Brent McKinney said. “She just never takes a drill off. Anything we're doing it's always going to be 100%, and that's what's great about her.”
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The 5-foot-8 Beyers averages 9.7 points, 5 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.5 assists per game for No. 2-ranked Pana (34-1) heading into the Vandalia Supersectional against No. 9 Carterville (27-6) at 7 p.m.
It perhaps belies her quiet but calm demeanor.
Beyers constantly observes and listens before applying what she learns into action. That meticulous attention to detail is underscored by her uncanny ability to put herself in the right position at the right time.
“She definitely hides a little bit being so quiet,” senior point guard Rachel Holthaus said, “but she definitely comes out and puts a game on for us.”
Beyers also knows what to do with the ball in her hands.
“Whenever it gets tough on me, she's always there to step up because if they put on a press, she's there,” Holthaus said. “We're able to get it down the floor. We all work together very well, so we all have that connection.”
That was the case against Paris in the Class 2A Monticello Sectional final.
McKinney said Beyers never got rattled against the Tigers’ full-court press in the second half and the Panthers came away with their first sectional title since 2012.
Beyers additionally supplied nine points in Friday’s 46-33 win.
“Rachel obviously handles the ball a lot, but Anna can handle it, too, especially when we get into transition stuff or late in the game,” McKinney said. “Those two both have had that kind of a calm demeanor, so that helps her out too with her personality being that way. She's not going to get rattled or sped up late in the game.”
BLENDING IN WITH THE REST
Beyers certainly acts like another senior on the floor.
The rest of the starting lineup includes seniors: Holthaus, Jillian Hamilton, Lainey Hicks and Ellie Kuhn. That doesn’t account others— such as Kiley Ladage — off the bench.
“She's one of us,” Holthaus said. “We all love her to be a part of this. But it's just a great experience for her to get to have before she gets to senior year. It's good for her.”
Beyers began playing with this senior corps as early as third grade. They twice reached the Illinois Elementary School Association state finals at Sacred Heart during junior high.
“I've played with them long enough that it's just good chemistry with the team,” Beyers said. “You know who's going to get the ball to you and you know who to give the ball to.”
Beyers, of course, remained behind eighth grade year. That will be the case again next season.
“We just really look up to them and next year, I think we're just going to have to give it our all and put in extra time and effort,” Beyers said. “We'll just give it our all and just do our best with what we have next year.”
Pana ended the regular season ranked No. 2 by The Associated Press in Class 2A.
Carterville, meanwhile, reached No. 9 in the statewide poll and dispatched No. 4 seed Breese Mater Dei 63-52 in the Nashville Sectional final.
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Sisters Amayah and Alecia Doyle poured in 26 and 22 points, respectively, for the Lions.
Amayah, a sophomore guard/forward, averages 15.6 points and 7 rebounds per game. Alecia, a senior guard, leads the team in scoring with 17.2 ppg and adds 4.8 rpg.
“We're all excited for the supersectional and be so close to home,” Holthaus said. “We're ready for a crowd and we're ready to be in that position.”
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