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Panthers defense tough; Cyclones win

The Paola Panthers knew heading into their game with the Ottawa Cyclones on Friday, February 5, 2010 that they were potentially running into a buzz saw, as less than a week ago, the Cyclones had completely dismantled a pretty good Louisburg Wildcat team 90-44 in Ottawa.

WLH0376 The Panthers, fresh off two thrilling victories of their own last week, were looking to extend their winning streak to three games, and were looking to extend their Frontier League record to 4-0 on the season. The Panthers were also looking to stay away from the Cyclone’s strength, and not get caught up in a run and gun affair which would play right into Ottawa’s strength. The Panthers were looking to take the “buzz” out of the buzz saw, turn it into a half court, defensive battle and hold the high flying Ottawa offense in check.

If they could limit the Cyclone’s possessions, slow the game down and keep the score low, the Panthers would have a chance. But, they would need to keep the Cyclones within striking distance, and not let the gifted Ottawa athletes like Semi Ojeleye and Kevin Barber turn the game into a high flying dunk fest. The Panthers had been on the receiving end of a couple of those circus act slam dunks when the Cyclones had visited PHS a few weeks ago, and the last thing they wanted to see was the Cyclones get going on their home floor.

Well, the Panthers succeeded in taking the air out of the ball, and the buzz from the buzz saw, as they didn’t allow the Cyclones to pour in point after point, holding Ottawa to a respectable 42 points on the evening, the only problem was the Panthers were unable to really get their offense cranking either and lost in a defensive battle by a final count of 42-30.

Both teams found shooting the ball an adventure, as the Panthers managed to hit just 13 of 43 shots for just 30% from the field. The Cyclones shot just slightly higher at 13 of 41 for 32%. The Panthers held the Cyclones to a season low three, three pointers on the night.

If there’s one thing you can count on game in and game out with the Panthers it’s defense. Coach Dave Cash preaches it, and almost without exception, the Panthers play it. It’s an “in your face” kind of defensive strategy that puts pressure on just about every facet of the opponents offense, and this night was no different. The only problem is, the Cyclones have a lot of weapons, and it’s hard to shut down all phases of their game.

On this night, after a close first half, it was Ottawa freshman sensation Semi Ojeleye who did the damage and lead his team to the final twelve point margin of victory. Ojeleye hit 13 of his game high 16 points in the second half to personally keep the Panthers in check. Ojeleye was the only player from either team to score in double figures on the night.

The night did not start well for the Panthers, as they allowed the Cyclones to jump to an 11-2 lead with two minutes to play in the first quarter, but the Paola defense kicked in, and the Cyclones were allowed just six more points through the last ten minutes of the half, but the Panthers were unable to really capitalize on the defensive pressure, scoring just nine points of their own to head to the locker room at the half trailing 17-11.

The Panthers started the second half on a 5-1 run to pull to within two at 18-16, but the Panthers defensive pressure waned a bit through the remainder of the third quarter and Paola found themselves staring at an 11 point, 32-21 deficit at the end of three quarters of play.

On this night, the Panthers didn’t have a magical answer to the Cyclones, as the teams played to a 10-9 stalemate in the fourth quarter and the Cyclones came away with a hard fought 42-30 victory.

The Panthers did not have a double digit scorer, but saw eight players put points on the board in the contest, Travis Hayes was the Panthers leading scorer with six points on the night, Skylar Hawkins hit for five and Conner Kresin and Isaac Cotton each added four for Paola.

The Cyclones were paced by Ojeleye with 16 points, Barber kicked in eight for Ottawa.

The Panthers will hit the road again on Tuesday, February 9, 2010 as they make a long road trip to Nevada, Missouri to take on the Tigers.

PLAYER

2's

3's

ftm

fta

F

pts

Cotton

2

0

0

0

2

4

Dunmars

2

0

0

4

2

4

Hawkins

1

1

0

0

2

5

Goodman

1

0

1

2

0

3

Kresin

0

1

1

2

3

4

Hayes

3

0

0

0

5

6

Wilson

1

0

0

1

4

2

Smail

1

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

11

2

2

9

18

30

BOX SCORE

PLAYER

2's

3's

ftm

fta

F

pts

Messenger

0

0

0

0

4

8

Hasty

1

1

2

2

3

7

Goedert

2

0

2

2

1

6

Barber

3

0

2

4

0

8

Peoples

2

0

1

2

1

5

Ojeleye

2

2

6

9

3

16

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

10

3

13

19

12

42

BOX SCORE

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

F

Paola

4

7

10

9

30

Ottawa

11

6

15

10

42

SCORE BY QUARTERS
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