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They say it’s better to give than to receive, and the Paola Panther Boys took that adage to heart in their season opener as they fell to the Piper Pirates 59-50 in the Eudora Boys Basketball tournament in Eudora Monday night December 7, 2009. The Panthers were in a giving mood, coughing up 30 turnovers, and the Pirates were more than willing to accept the Panthers gifts, turning a six point second quarter deficit into a five point halftime lead, and then hanging on for the victory.

“That was a great effort, but 30 turnovers is just too many,” said Panthers Head Coach Dave Cash. “We made way too many mistakes, and that has something to do with how young we are, but I’m not going to let all of you off the hook with that excuse.”

WLH0149 The Panthers lead through most of the first quarter, pulling out to a two point 18-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Panthers pushed the lead to five points to open the second quarter as Nick Wilson completed three point play. The Pirates cut the lead to two on a three pointer by Dylan Hays, but Wilson countered for the Panthers with two more quick baskets to push the lead out to six points at 25-19.

The Pirates would pull into a 25 all tie on the strength of three pointers by Hays and Russell Loomis. The Piper run continued, as the Pirates scored seven more unanswered points to turn the six point deficit into a seven point lead at 32-25, prompting Cash to call a time out with under one minute to play in the half. Conner Kresin closed out the scoring for both teams with a pair of free throws to cut the Piper lead to five at the half at 32-27.

The turnover bug really caught up with Paola during the Pirates 13-2 run to finish the half, as the Panthers committed eight turnovers in 14 possessions leading up the the intermission.

The Pirates continued to pressure the Panthers and came out of the break outscoring Paola 8-3 in the first thee and a half minutes of the period to run out to a 10 point, 40-30 lead. The Pirates called time out with four and a half minutes to play in the period, and the break seemed to help the Panthers, as they regained their focus and outscored Piper 10-3 through the remainder of the third quarter to cut the lead to just three, at 43-40.

“When we moved the ball side to side, good things happened,” Cash said. “When we were focused, we were able to cut into the lead, but when we lost focus, the lead went back up.”

The three point deficit was as close as the Panthers would come, as the Pirates went on a 13-2 run to push the lead to 14 points at 56-42 before Jesse Smail hit a pair of close in buckets to pull the Panthers back to within 10 at 56-46. The Pirates were able to keep the Panthers at bay the remainder of the game and took the nine point 59-50 victory.

“We have to take better care of the ball,” Cash said. “But for our first night, I was pleased with the effort.”

The Panthers were paced by Nick Wilson, who hit for 17 points, with five field goals, a three pointer and four of five from the free throw line. No other Panther player hit for double figures, Isaac Cotton and Travis Hayes were the next leading scorers for Paola with eight points each. The Pirates placed three players in double figures with Loomis leading the way with 19 points, followed by Hays with 16 and Jaron Guess with 10. The difference maker in the game, besides the Panthers giving up 30 turnovers, was the Pirates hit four more three pointers than Paola. The two teams each scored 14 field goals, and the Panthers outscored Piper from the free throw line 10-7, buy the Pirates hit eight three points to the Panthers four which netted them the nine point difference.

The Panthers play the loser of the J.C. Harmon vs Turner game at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at Eudora Middle School. The tournament will conclude with four games on Thursday.

WLH0068 

Panthers fall to Piper Pirates 59-50

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