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Game of give-away

Turnovers cost Panthers in loss at Spring Hill

WLH0195 The Paola Panther Boys basketball team was cruising, taking a nine point lead at the half Friday night, February 13, 2009 at Spring Hill against the Broncos, and increased that lead to 10 points at 39-29 on the first basket of the second half, and then the roof caved in so to speak on the Panthers, as the Broncos went on to pull away for a 73-64 victory.

“We didn’t handle the second half very well,” said Panther Head Coach Dave Cash. “That’s the bottom line.”

To say this was a tale of two halves would be an over simplification. The Panthers, while holding the lead through most of the first half, were never really comfortable with the Bronco pressing style of defense. But the Panthers, on the strength of strong play by Travis Hayes and Brandon Erisman were able to take a two point lead at the end of the first period at 15-13. The Broncos grabbed a 1-0 lead on a free throw by James Beard, but Hayes hit a bucket and Erisman converted a three point play to give the Panthers a 5-1 lead. Hayes and Erisman combined again for four points to bump the lead back to four after the Broncos had cut the lead to two.

The Broncos tied the game at nine on a basket by Beard and a three pointer by Ben Atwell, but Hayes combined with Hayden Mersman for two baskets and the Panther lead was back to four at 13-9. The Broncos tied the game again at 13 with baskets by Colton Ghumm and Jordan Miller, but Erisman hit a bucket late to give Paola a 15-13 lead at the quarter.

The Broncos took a one point lead to open the second quarter on a three pointer by Miller, but the Panthers picked up an unexpected spark from junior Brint Hastert, as he hit the floor with a vengeance, getting two quick baskets to put the Panthers back in the lead at 19-16. After a Ghumm field goal, Erisman and Hastert combined for two free throws and a three pointer to push the Panther lead to six at 24-18. The Panthers and Broncos traded points through the quarter, and after a Bronco basket cut the Panther lead to four at 33-29, Hastert hit two more baskets to up his point total to 11 for the quarter and give the Panthers a nine point 37-29 lead as the teams went to the locker room at the half.

Things started well for the Panthers in the second half, as Issac Cotton hit a jumper to give the Panthers a 10 point lead at 39-29 to open the second half. A basket by Miller and a three pointer by Beard shaved the lead to five and forced Cash to call a time out with just over seven minutes to play in the quarter.

From that point to the end of the quarter, the Broncos went on a 17-9 run to turn the five point deficit to a three point lead and then never looked back. The pressing, in your face defense by the Broncos finally forced too many turnovers for the Panthers to recover from and the momentum of the game completely swung away from Paola.

WLH0222 “We have to take care of the basketball,” Cash said. “We turned the ball over too many times (20 to be exact), that’s just too many.”

The Panthers tried to stay close to the Broncos as the final period opened, as Hayes, and Nick Wilson combined for six points to get the game tied at 54. The Broncos jumped back into the lead on a basket by Miller and Pomotto got the Panthers their last lead of the game with a three pointer, giving Paola a 57-56 lead. The Broncos hit five quick points to jump to a four point lead and Cash called time out with just over four minutes to play in the game.

Adam Henn and Hastert combined for five points to slice the Bronco lead to three at 65-62, but that was as close as the Panthers would come, as Spring Hill outscored the Panthers 8-1 to close the las minute of the game at seal the 73-64 victory.

“We’re not powerful enough offensively to have that many turnovers,” Cash said. “Combine that with the fact we weren’t very good defensively through the whole game, and that’s going to make it hard for us to win.”

The Panthers will return to the court on Tuesday as they travel to Baldwin to take on the Bulldogs before returning home to face Louisburg on Friday night.