Panthers dominate Baldwin, clinch Sub-State top seed
With the season winding down the Paola Panthers Girls Basketball team is starting to realize more and more of their goals. The Baldwin Bulldogs became the Panthers eighteenth victim on the season, as the Panthers cruised to a 54-36 victory at Baldwin Tuesday Night.
The Panthers moved closer and closer to their goal of a league championship, but most of all Paola clinched the top seed in their sub-state tournament.
“Tonight you wrapped up the #1 seed in the sub-state tournament, and will play Prairie View in the first game at home,” Panther Head Coach Sturart Ross told his team. “You’ve lived up to that placing in the other two tournaments you’ve played in this year.”
The Panthers jumped out in front of the Bulldogs, starting the game with a 9-0 run fueled by Ashlee Johnson, Taelor Karr and Rachel Hanf. Three points by the Bulldogs stopped the run, but Megan Hayes and Taelor Karr hit a basket and a three pointer respectively to give the Panthers a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter proved to be too much Rachel Hanf for the Bulldogs, as the Emporia State bound senior torched the Bulldogs for nine of her first half 17 points and the Panthers outscored the Bulldogs 14-8 to grab a 28-14 halftime lead. Courtney Clouse hit a three pointer and Kayla Offutt added a basket to round out the scoring for the Panthers in the quarter.
As has been the case many times this season, the Panthers put a strangle hold on the Bulldogs in the third period, running off eleven unanswered points to open a 25 point lead at 39-14. The Panther were paced in the run by Johnson who hit seven of the Panthers 11 points on the run. Johnson added two more points to close the quarter and Hanf and Hayes added baskets to give the Panthers a 13-3 advantage in the quarter.
The Bulldogs didn’t score a point until the 1:14 mark in the quarter, and didn’t score a basket until less than 40 seconds to play on a basket by Allison Howard. The Panthes lead stood a 24 points, 41-17.
The fourth quarter got a little sloppy, and with Ross substituting liberally during the quarter, the Bulldogs managed to cut into the lead, a fact that was not overlooked by Ross.
Ross was concerned with the fact his team gave up 19 points in the fourth quarter, more than they allowed through the first three quarters.
“You guys gave up more points in the fourth quarter than the rest of the game,” Ross said. “Granted, they left their starters in, but you play against some of the best players in Class 4-A every day in practice, you can play with these teams.”
Hanf hit five points in the period, and Johnson, Rachel Schmidt, Kayla Offutt, and Courtney Clouse all hit baskets for the Panthers. The basket by Offutt gave the Panthers a 25 point, 51-26 lead before the Bulldogs went on an 8-0 run before Clouse hit her three pointer to bump the lead back to 20 at 54-34.
The Panthers will now prepare to take on the defending league champion Louisburg Wildcats on Friday night. Paola will also honor their seniors at the game.