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Defensive holiday

Trailblazers take advantage of Panther defense 73-53

WLH0416 The Paola Panther Boys Basketball team played with the Gardner Trailblazers for about half of the first quarter on Friday night, but in the end the ‘Blazers proved to be to strong for the Panthers, as they dropped their final regular season game of the season at Gardner by a 73-53 count.

The Panthers jumped out to leads of 4-1, and 6-3 before Bubba Starling and the rest of the Trailblazers came to life and put the Panthers away. Trailing 6-3 early in the game, Starling and Ronnie Ruberry combined for six straight points to give their team a three point 9-6 lead. Michael Bryson and Isaac Cotton each hit a jumper to move the Panthers back in front for the final time on the night at 10-9. After that point things would not be too much fun for the Panthers.

“We got beat by a better team tonight,” said Panther Head Coach Dave Cash. “I don’t know that they are 20 points better, but they were definitely a better team.”

After the Panthers regained the lead at 10-9 Starling hit three points and Austin Goldsmith added a bucket and the ‘Blazers were back in the lead for good at 14-10 which also closed out the first quarter.

The ‘Blazers wasted little time turning the four point lead to double digits at 20-10 on the strength of a basket by Starling and a basket and two free throws from Clayton Dye. Pomatto stopped the run a 11-0 with three pointer by Jonathan Pomatto, but that was quickly matched by a Starling trey and the lead was still 10 at 23-13. The teams traded points through the remainder of the first half, and the ‘Blazers enjoyed a 12 point, 38-26 lead at the intermission.

Starling and Bryson traded baskets to open the second half to keep the lead at 12 at 40-28, but then the Blazers went on a 10-2 run, punctuated by a dunk by Starling and as the Panthers called time out with a little over five minutes to play in the third period, the Blazer lead had ballooned to 20 points at 50-30.

Gardner stretched the lead to 23 points late in the quarter, and the scoring for the period ended on a three pointer from Adam Henn which also cut the Gardner lead to 19 at 59-40.

WLH0374 Brandon Erisman opened the fourth quarter with a three pointer and the Panthers had crept as close as they would come, trailing by 16 at 59-43. The Panthers could do very little to try and get back in the game and the teams traded baskets through the remainder of the game which ended on a Travis Hayes short jumper to close the game out in favor of Gardner by a 73-53 final count.

“Our defense didn’t look good,” said Cash. “That may have been the poorest we’ve played all season long.”

With that, Cash said he was finished talking about the previous game and started working on getting his team ready to open sub-state play on Monday against rival Osawtomie, in Osawatomie.

“We have a big game Monday, we need to work hard to be prepared to play Osawatomie,” Cash said. “This game is going to be tough, and our defensive effort is going to have to be better.”

The Panther will travel to Osawatomie on Monday to open the sub-state tournament. If the Panthers can beat the Trojans for a second time this season, they will take on the winner of the Fort Scott vs. Prairie View match up set for Friday in Ottawa.