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Big lead is hard to

Panthers race to big lead, take down Nevada 54-43

WLH0246 The Paola Panther Boys found themselves in a rare position Tuesday night, deep in a game with a big lead. The Panthers didn’t exactly handle the prosperity the way Coach Dave Cash would have liked them to, but still they came away with a relatively easy 54-43 victory over the Nevada, Missouri High School Tigers in the PHS Gym. The victory improved the Panthers record to 7-9 on the season.

“Don’t be satisfied with this win,” Cash told his team. “You were up 20 at one point and then in just a minute or two, they were back to 10, we let them get right back in the game.”

Indeed, the Panthers playing with a lead has not happened nearly as frequently as they would like on the season, but playing with a big lead, a double digit lead, has been a rare occasion. The Panthers worked hard through most of the game to build the lead, and the Tigers showed Paola just how easy it was to lose a lead, no matter how big it is.

The Panthers jumped out strong in the game, running to a 12-6 first quarter lead on the strength of three pointers by Brandon Erisman and Adam Henn, to go along with buckets by Jonathan Pomatto and Michael Bryson and free throws from Travis Hayes. Parker Richardson hit four of his teams six points in the quarter, and it would be Richardson who would single handedly keep Nevada within striking distance all night long.

Paola continued its strong play in the second quarter, as Hayes and Erisman opened the period with a basket and a three point play before Richardson and Trevor Foreman answered for Nevada, with Foreman’s three prompting Cash to call time out with just over five minutes to play in the half.

Paola’s Issac Cotton hit two buckets around two free throws from Richardson and the Panther lead stood at eight, 21-13. Hayes and Adam Henn would combine for the next eight points for Paola, after a Hayes bucket gave the Panthers their first double digit lead of the game, Hayes went to the line for two free throws off an intentional foul call on the Tigers’ Jordan Tumm. The intentional foul call was followed by a technical foul call on the Nevada bench, and finally, Tumm was whistled for his fourth personal foul, which sent Hayes back to the line. When the smoke had cleared, the Panthers had hit five of six free throws and the lead stood at 15 points 28-13. The teams played out the remainder of the half and went to the locker room with the score remaining the same.

WLH0214 Richardson hit a three to open the second half scoring, it would be one of four threes he would hit in the quarter, as he would account for 13 of his team’s 15 points in the period. Hayes and Cotton opened and closed the scoring for the Panthers in the period, and Erisman and Bryson also hit baskets in the quarter. After Richardson’s opening three, the Panthers went on a 11-3 run to open their biggest lead of the game at 39-19. But Richardson would show the Panthers how quickly a lead could disappear, hitting three consecutive three pointers to cut the lead back to 11 at 39-28, prompting Cash to call a time out. Hayes and Cotton righted the ship to end the quarter and Paola held a comfortable 43-28 lead at the end of three quarters.

“We’ve worked way to hard this season to let a team come back like that,” Cash said. “We didn’t get back in transition, we have to sprint back and talk and match up.”

The Panthers ran the lead back to 19 to open the final period, as Pomatto and Erisman hit baskets to make the score 47-28. Foreman hit a trey for Nevada and then Pomatto hit the deck hard on a driving lay up and left the game with an apparent ankle injury. Erisman stepped in and hit the free throws for Pomatto and the panther lead was 18 again at 49-31.

The Tigers got baskets from Foreman and Richardson around a basket by Paola’s Nick Wilson and the lead stood at 16 points, 51-35. In the closing minutes of the game, the Panthers got a bucket by Bryson and a free throw from Conner Kresin to close their scoring. Nevada got two baskets from Richardson and free throws from Cole Ogle to close their scoring and make the final count 54-43.

“I’m proud of you for winning the game,” Cash told his team in the locker room. “I’m disappointed with the way we finished.”

Cash told his team they have to get better every time they hit the floor. He said they played very well in spurts, but they had to be more effective in running the clock and playing in the half court with a lead.

The Panthers return to action with two tough road games on Friday at Spring Hill and next Tuesday against Baldwin before returning home to host cross county rival Louisburg a week from Friday.