Panthers seal the deal in victory over Baldwin
The Paola Panther Boys, after coming close in their last two games, found a way to finish the deal as they downed the Baldwin Bulldogs 60-56 in home action Friday night, January 16, 2009. The Panthers had taken DeSoto and Ottawa to the wire in their last two games on the road after they had beaten Girard in their last game, only to lose close games. But the Panthers found a way to close the deal on a snowy night, as they closed out the Bulldogs on the strength of 14 of 16 free throws by senior Adam Henn.
The Panthers have played aggressive offense and defense for the last few games, and that aggressive play continued as the Panthers traded baskets with the Bulldogs before taking the lead in the game near the end of the first quarter on the strength of a three pointer and two free throws by Travis Hayes.
Hayes added another field goal in the first quarter, and Skylar Hawkins, Jonathan Pomatto and Brandon Erisman each hit field goals as the Panthers jumped out to a four point, 13-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Chris Hecker cut the Panther lead to three with a free throw to open the second quarter but Hawkins, Pomatto and Isaac Cotton added two field goals and two free throws around a single free throw by Cameron Schwarz to help the Panthers open an eight point 19-11 lead. The burst by the Panthers drew a Baldwin time-out at the 4:29 point in the second quarter, and Zach Wright hit two free throws coming off the break to cut the Panther lead to six. Michael Bryson and Hawkins knocked down a jumper to give the Panthers their largest lead of the half at ten points, 23-13.
Just when it looked like the Panthers were going to run away and hide in the first quarter, the Bulldogs came storming back on the strength of a three point play and two free throws by Chad Kueffer to cut the lead to five at 23-18. Brint Hastert hit a layup to move the lead back to seven at 25-18, before Hecker and Wright hit five of six free throw attempts to shave the lead to two at the 34 second mark in the quarter. Adam Henn missed the front end of a one and one to send the teams to the locker room at the half with the Panthers clinging to a two point 25-23 lead.
Henn hit a basket open the scoring in the second half with a basket to open a four point 27-23 lead for the Panthers. Brandon Tommer sandwiched two baskets around two free throw misses by Henn to knot the score at 27 and Wright hit the first of two free throws at the 5:51 mark in the game to give the Bulldogs their first lead in the game since being ahead 9-8 late in the first quarter.
Isaac Cotton hit a basket to give the Panthers back the lead, but Tommer nailed a three pointer to retake the lead for the Bulldogs at 31-29. Pomatto hit two free throws and Hayes one to get the lead back to the Panthes at 32-31. The Panthers would not trail again.
Hawkins hit a basket and Hayes the second of two free throws to open a four point advantage for Paola with just under two minutes to play in the quarter. Erisman added a field goal to open a six point lead for the Panthers at 37-31 before Tommer cut the lead to four with a basket to end the third period.
Tommer cut the lead to three with a free throw to open the fourth quarter, before a Bulldog basket cut the lead to one at 37-36.
Adam Henn hit both ends of one and one situation to give the Panthers a three point lead at 39-36 and Hawkins hit a basket to give Paola a five point advantage at 41-36. The Buldogs went cold at the free throw line as Justin Vander Tuig, and Wright missed four free throws before Sam Beecher hit a bucket to cut the Panther lead to three at 41-38.
Henn hit a basket and Tommer a three pointer and the Panther lead stood at two at 43-41. From that point until two free throw misses at the 1:05 mark in the game by Hawkins, the Panthers hit twelve out of 14 free throws including eight in a row by Henn to increase the lead to seven at 55-48. Beecher hit a three pointer at the one minute mark in the game to cut the lead to four at 55-51.
Henn hit two more free throws to move the lead back to six at 57-51 before Wright answered with two free throws of his own to cut the lead to four. Henn finally missed a free throw in the period on his next trip to the line hitting one of two to give the Panthers a five point 58-53 lead. Pomatto hit the first of two a short time later and the Paola lead stood at six at 59-53.
The Bulldogs were not through as Kyle Pattrick nailed a three pointer with 5.9 seconds to play in the game to cut the lead to three at 59-56. Henn sealed the game, hitting the second of two free throws to give the Panthers a four point bulge at 60-56. A long three point attempt fell short at the buzzer and the Panthers escaped with the victory.
Panther Head Coach was not totally pleased with the way his Panthers finished the game, losing focus, missing some free throws and allowing the Bulldogs the opportunity to hit a late three pointer.
“The game is not over till the clock reads 00:00,” Cash said. “We have to stay focused till the clock runs out. Don’t let yourselves get beat because you think the game is over when it’s not.”
But Cash was not all disappointed as his team was able to finish the game and come away with the win.
“This was a big, big, big win,” Cash said. “It was good to play consistently and practice consistently.”
The Panthers will face a stiff challenge next week as they travel to Burlington to take on the number one ranked 3A team in the state in Sabetha on Tuesday.