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Lina Panos, Stagg at the top of Lincoln-Way Central


They say everything comes in threes and perhaps no one realizes this. Lina Panos.

Senior forward is one of Lincoln-Way Central’s Big Three along with senior guards Gracen Gehrke And Gianna Amadio. They combined to win their third straight conference championship.

And on Friday night, the Knights won their third consecutive sectional title.

“Three is our lucky number,” Panos then said with a broad smile. “At the beginning of the season, we called it the power of three. We continue to run with that number three.

“We have nine girls on our team, so we split into three… three-person practices.”

How about another three keys? Lincoln-Way Central’s 36-33 victory over Stagg in the Class 4A Andrew District championship game was the Knights’ third victory this season over the pesky Chargers.

young striker Brooke Baechtold He led Lincoln-Way Central (19-11) with nine points, including three 3-pointers in the second half. Gehrke and his sophomore guard Brooke Katzmann There were seven in each.

senior guard Lizzy Ellsworth He scored 12 points and made three three-pointers for Stagg (19-13). young striker Shannon Earley and senior guard Amelia Sánchez Six points added per person.

The 6-foot-10 Panos had four points and six rebounds for the Knights, who will play against Homewood-Flossmoor (21-7) in the Joliet West Regional semifinals Tuesday at 6 p.m.

But there was much more to his game Friday night than statistics.

“He’s just the glue that keeps us together,” Lincoln-Way coach said Dave Campanile aforementioned. “He was one of those seniors who really played a major role in this district his sophomore year.

“He kept us together all season, worked hard and said, ‘Hey, we’re good.’ He is the voice of reason.”

Lincoln-Way Central’s Gianna Amadio, Lina Panos and Gracen Gehrke, from left, celebrate after defeating Stagg in the Class 4A Andrew District championship game on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, in Tinley Park. (Gregg Voss/Daily Southtown)

Panos also struggled with Earley all night long while also working to block ultra-fast players like Sanchez and the senior guard. Nicole Hobart from driving in the lane or baseline.

Then Panos’ final point of the night, the second of two free throws with just 5.6 seconds left, gave the Knights a three-point advantage they couldn’t relinquish — you guessed it.

There probably wouldn’t be a bigger free throw in his high school career, according to teammates, coaches and parents milling around in a festive atmosphere after the game.

It’s also what you want from a senior with the leadership skills he’s developed over the last few years with Amadio and Gehrke. And that had a big impact on players like Baechtold.

“He was a great leader for our team,” Baechtold said of Panos. “He is our #1 leader, our #1 participant, our #1 speaker on the team. “He always encourages people when we are all feeling down.”

Meanwhile, Katzmann confirmed that he has learned a lot from Panos this season. For example?

“Honestly, never give up,” Katzmann said. “He always pushes and if he makes a mistake he just ignores it and keeps moving forward.”

Nearing the end of his high school career, Panos would like four more games, not three, which would normally mean a trip to the state finals at CEFCU Arena.

But he decided not to play in college, although he wanted to join intramurals or a club whenever things ended. One of the reasons for this was an ACL tear suffered in the regional semifinals, which ruled out a sophomore for part of his junior season and impacted recruiting.

Deciding not to play was a difficult decision, especially since he started playing basketball in kindergarten.

“It was extremely difficult,” he said. “I want to be a physician assistant, so I know it will be a difficult workload. But I won’t be playing with my best friends anymore, it’ll be a tough transition.”

Gregg Voss is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.


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