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Groundhog's Day

Panthers let first half lead slip away, fall to Baldwin

WLH0121 The Paola Panther Boys suffered through a nightmare on Friday the 13th, as they were unable to hold on to a 10 point third quarter lead at Spring Hill. A few days later it was kind of like a scene from the movie Groundhog's Day, as the Panthers once again were unable to hold onto a double digit lead in the second half, dropping a 56-48 decision to the Baldwin Bulldogs on Tuesday night.

The Panthers jumped out to a 6-0 lead on baskets by Isaac Cotton, Jonathan Pomatto and Travis Hayes and held on to the lead even though the Bulldogs outscored Paola 8-5 though the end of the quarter.

The Panthers continued to play tough through the second quarter, as baskets by Michael Bryson, Pomoatto, Nick Wilson, Brandon Erisman and Adam Henn hit baskets and with just over three minutes gone in the second quarter the Panthers had stretched the lead to 10 points at 22-12. The basket by Erisman at the 4:51 mark in the quarter prompted a time out by the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to six on the strength of baskets by Justin Vander Tuig and Alex Twombly, but Erisman and Bryson answered for the Panthers and the lead was back to 10 with just over two minutes to play in the the half. Vander Tuig hit a single free throw to cut the Panther lead to single digits at 26-17 as the teams headed to the locker room at halftime.

The Bulldogs wasted little time jumping back into the game as the teams returned from intermission. A three point basket by Brian White and a three point play by Vander Tuig pulled the Bulldogs within three at 26-23, but Cotton and Hayes hit baskets and the lead was back to seven at 30-23. The Bulldogs proceeded to go on a 10-2 run and took their first lead of the game on a Chip Kueffer bucket with 2:33 to play in the quarter at 33-32.

The Panthers were not done, as Hayes nailed a three pointer and a field goal and Pomatto added a field goal and the Panthers were once again ahead by six at 39-33. The Bulldogs got their long range game going, as Wright hit two three pointers, the last coming on a jumper with less than five seconds to play in the period to tie the score at 39 all.

The Bulldogs were not done, adding 10 more points to the run to open up a 10 point lead at 49-39. When the Panthers finally stopped the run with 2:39 to play in the game on an Isaac Cotton basket, the damage was done, but the Panthers would not give up, as Erisman hit a jumper off a steal and with 1:40 to play in the game, the Baldwin lead stood at six, 49-43. Wright hit two free throws and Erisman answered with a three pointer to cut the lad to five, but that was a close as the Panthers would come.

WLH0116 Kueffer and Wright scored the Bulldogs final five points of the game on free throws and Hayden Mersman hit a basket to give Baldwin the eight point, 56-48 victory.

“We’re not done battling,” said Panther Head Coach Dave Cash. “But we have to learn how to handle the second half.”

Cash told his team they have to learn how to overcome situations when the going gets tough. He told the squad they need to give some thought about what they were doing to allow them to get up by 8-10 points.

“What we’re asking you to do is not easy,” said Cash. “But we have to play smarter, we still have to do what we did to get us there.”

Cash told his team they did a lot of things really good, but they had to put together a game for all four quarters.

The Panthers will return to the hardwoods on Friday night as they host the Lousiburg Wildcats in the PHS Gymnasium.