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Too much Bubba

Fourth quarter run lifts Starling, 'Blazers over Panthers

The Paola Panther Boys Basketball hung tough with the Gardner-Edgerton High School Trailblazers on Thursday night, but came up a little short in the end, dropping a 59-45 decision at Paola.

Overall, the game was a closer than the score indicated, as the Trailblazers rode a 21-11 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter to open up the final margin. Up to that point, the Panthers had gone toe to toe with the Blazers, trailing by only four points at the end of the third quarter.

In the end it was simply too much of the Trailblazers and their star Bubba Starling for the Panthers, as Starling hit nine of his game high 20 points in the final period. In fact, the Panthers had done an outstanding job on the Blazers sophomore star, holing him to just five points on two field goals and a free throw in the first half.

“We played pretty good defense for the most part,” said Panther Head Coach Dave Cash. “We had trouble with Starling (in the second half), which is not a surprise.”

The Panthers are slowly building themselves into a ball hawking defensive team, and that trend showed in the first quarter. The Blazers were held to field goals by Starling, Seth Ford and Nick Mauszycki. Starling and Mauszycki added a free throw each, and the Panthers were able to take a 9-8 lead at the close of the quarter. Adam Henn hit a three pointer, and Skyler Hawkins hit a field goal for the Panthers in the period. Michael Bryson and Travis Hayes hit two free throws each to give the Panthers the lead.

Both teams did a little better offensively in the second quarter. The Blazers were lead by Ronnie Ruberry with four points, Jalon Jones hit a basket and a free throw for three points, Starling continued to struggle offensively with two points, Isaac Mallory, and Bryan Rushing also added two points each.

The Panthers, as was the case through most of the game found the going tough from the field, as Hawkins hit the Panthers only field goal of the half. The remainder of Paola’s points came from the free throw line, as Jonathoan Pomatto, Henn, Hawkins, Hayes, and Nick Wilson each hit charity tosses for the Panthers.

The Trailblazers outscored the Panthers 13-12 in the period to knot the score at 21-21 at the half.

“We have a tough time scoring,” Cash said. “But we’re trying to execute within our offense, we’re probably not going to make offense look easy.”

The Panthers woke up a from the field to start the second half, as Pomatto knocked down three field goals, Hayes added two and Bryson one plus a free throw to give the Panthers their best offensive quarter of the game. Starling started to heat up for the Blazers hitting six points in the quarter, but the difference was two baskets by Justice Berry, who had not scored in the first half, giving the Blazers a four point advantage as the teams headed into the fourth quarter.

The Panthers once again were unable to find a consistent offense from the field, as a three point shot by Brint Hastert was the only field goal for Paola in the period. The Panthers tried to hang in the game at the free throw line, hitting eight of twelve attempts, but in the end the Blazer offense was too much for Paola.

Starling opened the period with a three pointer and by the time Hastert hit his trey with about two minutes to play in the game, the Panthers were trailing by eight at 49-41. The Blazers used a 10-4 run to close the game at the final 59-45 margin.

“The made a run when they needed to,” Cash told his team after the game. “That was anybody’s ball game till the fourth quarter.”

Overall Cash was pleased with his team’s effort, and their ability to compete with a good Gardner squad.

“I’m pleased with our effort,” Cash said. “We just have to keep plugging away and trying to get better.”

The Panthers take a break for the holidays and will return to action against Girard on January 6, 2009.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Cash said. “Girard will be a good basketball team. We will be tested through the rest of the season.”