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The Paola Panther Boys basketball team ran into a buzz saw Thursday night, as the Panthers and the Harmon High School Hawks hooked up in a game that was postponed by inclement weather on Tuesday night. The Hawks were high flying as they defeated the Panthers 74-37 and earned a spot in the Championship game of the Paola Invitational tournament Friday night against Eudora.

Paola Head Coach Dave Cash told his troops after their opening round victory that the Hawks would be a tough team, and his assessment proved to be correct.

“That was a good basketball team,” Cash told his Panthers after the loss. “I don’t know if they are 40 points better than us, but they are a very good team.”

The Panthers hung tough with the Hawks early in the game, staying within four points through the first half of the quarter. In fact Harmon tried to give the Panthers the ability to stay close, as they put the Panthers in the bonus from the free throw line with two and half minutes to play in the quarter.

But the Panthers were not able to take advantage of their good fortune, as they were unable to convert consistently from the free throw line.

The Hawks stretched their lead to nine points at the end of the quarter, taking a 19-10 lead.

Adam Henn opened the second quarter with a jumper that cut the lead to seven, but then the Hawks went on a 12-0 run that pushed the lead to 31-12. Harmon finished the quarter on a 10-5 run to go to the locker room with a 41-17 lead at the half.

The Panthers came out at the start of the second half and got a quick steal, basket and free throw from Skylar Hawkins to cut the lead to 41-20. Michael Bryson added a basket off a steal, and the Panthers crept to within 41-22.

“When we got our heads up, and were on balance, good things happened,” Cash said. “We need to be more consistent.”

Indeed consistency was a problem for the young Panthers against the quicker, taller Hawks, as after the 5-0 run by Paola to open the second half, the Hawks proceeded to run off nine unanswered points to stretch the lead to 30 points at 52-22.

Brandon Erisman broke the Hawk run with a jumper to make the score 52-24, but Harmon turned on the defensive pressure again and raced to a 62-24 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The Hawks pushed their run to 16-0 to open the fourth quarter, as the Panthers saw the Hawk lead balloon to 44 points at 68-24, before Brint Hastert hit both ends of a one and one to stop the run and make the score 68-26.

The Panthers got baskets from Hawkins, Issac Cotton, Erisman, Nick Wilson and Hastert down the stretch to end the game with a 74-37 score.

“Here’s the good thing,” Cash continued. “You make mistakes, you learn from them, you go on and try and get better, that’s life. Tomorrow’s another day, we need to come out an play better tomorrow.”

Not Harmon-ic!

Harmon proves too much for Panthers in tourney