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Panthers suffer "ugly" loss to Wildcats

This one is not going to go down in history as an epic battle between two rivals, no, the Paola Panthers and Louisburg Wildcats played something that can best be described as an ugly game on Friday, February 19, 2010 at Louisburg.

You need not look any further than the first quarter to see how ugly things were for the Panthers, as they manage just two points in the first eight minutes, and those were the first two points of the game, which Isaac Cotton hit a little over a minute into the game to give Paola their first and only lead of the night on their way to a disappointing 47-36 loss.

WLH0791 It wasn’t as if the Wildcats were lighting up the scoreboard, as they managed only eight points in the first quarter, and most that offense came in the last two and a half minutes of the quarter, when Louisburg picked up five points on a field goal by Garrett Griffin and a three pointer by Stephen McTeer. Up to that point the two teams had put up a blazing five points total, as the Wildcats had meekly answered the Cotton two pointer with a free throw by Griffin and a basket by Harding a short time later to grab a 3-2 lead.

“We just didn’t have any spacing of ball movement in the first half,” said Panthers Head Coach Dave Cash. “We just got into one of those offensive funks and couldn’t get out.”

Justin O’Brien put the Wildcats in double digits as the second quarter opened, to push the Wildcat lead to 10-2. Cotton finally ended the Panther scoring drought with his second basket of the game to make the score 10-4. Prior to the Cotton basket, the Panthers had gone over eight minutes without scoring. Conner Kresin pulled the Panthers to within four with a basket a short time later, and as bad as things had been, Paola trailed just 10-6.

But the Panther offense was not about to come out of hibernation, as they went another five minutes without scoring, while the Wildcats put together a 15-0 run to push the lead to 19 points at 25-5 with just over a minute to play in the first half. About all the Panthers were able to do during that stretch of the game was foul, as Nick Wilson picked up his third foul at the four minute mark and Travis Hayes was whistled for fouls two and three during that time. Hayes picked up his third foul with 1:07 to play in the quarter, it was the Panthers 12th foul of the first half, and even though Griffin missed both ends of the two shot opportunity, the Panthers were staring at a very uphill battle to try and get back into the game.

Cotton and Kresin gave the Panthers a small boost heading into the locker room for the intermission, as they combined for a basket and a three pointer to at least put Paola in double digits at halftime, as they trailed 25-11. Cotton and Kresin were the only Panthers to score in the first half, as Cotton had six of his team high 15 points in the first half. Kresin added five on a two pointer and three point basket. The Panthers inside tandem of Wilson and Hayes were held scoreless in the first half, with each player picking up three fouls in the opening two quarters.

The second half didn’t start well for the Panthers, as Louisburg’s Stephen McTeer hit a three pointer to open the scoring at push the Wildcat lead to 17 points at 28-11. Travis Hayes finally awoke from his offensive slumber to hit back to back baskets before McTeer hit another three pointer to make the score 31-15 with about six minutes to play in the quarter.

The Panthers were still having trouble scoring, as over the next three minutes the Panthers managed a three pointer from Skylar Hawkins and a single free throw from Wilson, which marked his first points of the night, while the Wildcats were getting back to back baskets from Griffin and when Harding hit a basket with about two minutes to play in the third quarter, the Wildcats had stretched the lead to 19 points at 38-19.

A Hawkins basket with about a minute an a half to play in the quarter gave the Panthers 10 points in the quarter, nearly matching their point total for the first half, and as the third quarter ended, the Panthers trailed 38-21.

It’s not really clear whether the Panthers finally started playing well in the fourth quarter, of the Wildcats just couldn’t handle success, but Paola did mount a comeback attempt in the final eight minutes, and it’s safe to say the reason the Panthers were able to even get close after trailing by 17 points at the end of the third quarter was a combination of both of the aforementioned facts.

The Panthers did find some offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter, unfortunately they found it when they were already down by nearly 20 points, and with two of their best offensive weapons strapped with four fouls each.

Whatever the reasons, the Panthers were aided by a sudden loss of offensive presence by the Wildcats, as the Panther defense finally started to take is toll on the ‘Cats, who managed just nine points in the fourth quarter, and hit only one shot from the field and that was the last two points of the game. Prior to that, the Wildcats had been limited to free throws, as they connected on seven of nine attempts in the final eight minutes.

For a team that’s 17 points down with just eight minutes to play to come back takes a combination of several things, first and foremost the opposition must have trouble scoring. The Panthers got that from the Wildcats, then, the second part of the equation is the trailing team must have all of its weapons on the floor and contributing.

For the Panthers, the second part of the puzzle took a big hit fairly early in the quarter, as Hayes picked up his fourth foul about a minute and a half into the quarter and then retired to the bench with his fifth foul with five minutes to play in the game. The foul by Hayes resulted in two free throws by Daniel O’Connell and gave the Wildcats a 17 point lead again at 40-23.

Even with Hayes on the bench, the Panthers got all the help they could need to get back into the game, as the O’Connell free throw were the last points the Wildcats would score over the next three and a half minutes. During that stretch, the Panthers ran off 10 unanswered points and no matter how bad things had looked for the Panthers, with two and a half minutes to play in the game, the Panthers trailed by just seven points at 40-33.

But, as is the case so many times, that was as close as the Panthers would come, as Harding was able to stop the Panther run with two foul shots with a minute and a half to play to give the ‘Cats a nine point lead at 42-33. The charity tosses came on the fifth foul by Wilson, which left the Panthers without their inside scoring presence for the most critical juncture of the game.

The team traded free throws down the stretch, and while Cotton hit a basket with about 30 seconds to play to cut the lead back to seven at 43-36, the Panthers could get no closer and the game ended with the Wildcats holding an 11 point lead.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Cash said. “They battled back, we lost by 10, but were were down by 20 at one point, they never gave up. We just put ourselves in such a hole that it’s hard to come back.”

After hitting six points in the first half, Cotton added nine more in the second half to lead the team in scoring with 15 points. Cotton was the Panthers only consistent offensive weapon, as no other Panther player could score in double figures. Paola’s inside players of Hayes and Wilson never got into the flow of the game and hit four and five points respectively. The Panthers hit just three, three point baskets and were just five of 12 from the free throw line.

No Wildcat player hit for double figures, with McTeer tallying nine points on three, three pointers, and Griffin with nine points leading the ‘Cat scorers. Louisburg managed just nine field goals, but hit five, three pointers. The ‘Cats again struggled from the free throw line hitting just 14 of 30 attempts.

“Defensively, we weren’t bad, but we could have been better,” Cash said. “Offensively, they took us out of our game and we didn’t do anything to take them out of theirs.”

The Panthers will spend the last week of the regular season at home, as they will host the Anderson County Bulldogs in a rare Monday night game on February 22, 2010 before closing the regular season with Bubba Starling and the high flying Gardner Edgerton Trailblazers visiting for senior night on Friday. The Panthers will then take part in the sub-state tournament at Osawatomie during the first week in March.

PLAYER

2's

3's

ftm

fta

F

pts

Cotton

5

1

2

4

3

15

Dunmars

0

0

2

4

2

2

Hawkins

1

1

0

0

2

5

Goodman

0

0

0

0

2

0

Kresin

1

1

0

0

4

5

Hayes

2

0

0

0

5

5

Wilson

2

0

1

4

5

5

Smail

0

0

0

0

0

0

West

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

11

3

5

12

23

36

BOX SCORE

PLAYER

2's

3's

ftm

fta

F

pts

Houchen

1

0

5

6

1

7

Daugherty

0

0

0

0

0

0

O'Brien

1

0

0

0

2

2

McTeer

0

3

0

0

1

9

Harding

1

1

1

2

1

6

O'Connell

1

1

2

2

0

7

Embers

0

0

3

7

2

3

Stephens

1

0

0

0

0

2

Griffin

3

0

3

8

4

9

Dvorak

1

0

0

5

2

2

Larsen

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

9

5

14

30

13

47

BOX SCORE

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

F

Paola

2

9

10

15

36

Louisburg

8

17

13

9

47

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