Slowin' Down . . .

Panthers avoid slow down trap, record 10-0

WLH0136 Teams that take on the Paola Panthers Girls Basketball team are coming up with more and more creative ways to try and slow the Panthers down. Tuesday night in Burlington the Santa Fe Trail Chargers did exactly that, try the slowdown tactic against the second ranked team in the state in class 4-A.

All the Chargers tactic did was postpone the inevitable, and keep the score a little more respectable, but it didn’t stop Paola from picking up their 10th consecutive victory on the season to advance to a semi-final game against Topeka Hayden on Friday night. The Panther girls, in workman like fashion, fought through the Chargers for a 32-15 victory.

The Chargers came out and were quite content to toss the ball around the perimeter of the Panther defense, and not really trying to take a shot, and for the longest time it looked like their strategy might have a positive outcome. The Panthers were unable to get any offensive punch going, as the game remained scoreless for over half of the first quarter. The Panthers finally cracked the scoring column on a three pointer by Rachel Hanf with 3:44 to play in the quarter. Megan Hayes hit a basket a short time later, and the quarter ended with the Panthers leading 5-0.

“You have to file that one away,” said Panther Head Coach Stuart Ross. “We might just see that kind of game again.”

The Charger’s Tesia Allison hit a basket to open the second quarter to cut the Panther lead to three at 5-2, but it would be the only points Santa Fe Trail would score in the first half.

After Ashlee Johnson missed on two free throw attempts, Taelor Karr hit a three point play, Allison Wood added a basket and then Karr hit a layup off a steal and the Panther lead had grown to 10 points at 12-2. The half ended with the Panthers on top by the same ten point margin.

Despite the slowdown tactic by the Chargers, the Panthers played tough defense, playing a matchup zone defense and making things tough on the Chargers, a point not overlooked by Ross.

“Defense was the difference,” Ross said. “We didn’t let them do things to let them get back in the game.”

One could tell the Chargers were trying to frustrate the Panthers, who much prefer getting out and moving up and down the court. The Panther defense is smothering at times, and is built to score in bunches off turn overs. Paola forced turn overs, but in a game with limited possessions, those turnovers were not always converted to points, which allowed Santa Fe Trail to stay relatively close.

The Panthers opened the third quarter with a Karr steal and bucket to up the lead to 12 at 14-2. Courtney Clouse hit the second of two free throws and Hanf hit two free throws to up the lead to 15 at 17-2. Kylee Mader grabbed a steal and hit a layup to give the Panthers their biggest lead at 19-2. Korbynn Stallbaumer hit a free thow for the Chargers near the end of the quarter to make the score 19-3 after three quarters of play.

WLH0113 Coach Ross began to substitute freely at the beginning of the final quarter, as Hayes and Johnson each hit single free throws, and Taylor Smith hit a bucket to give the Panthers an 18 point 23-5 lead. Hanf hit a basket a short time later and the Panther lead grew to 20 points at 25-5.

The Chargers did not back down, and the two teams traded baskets through the rest of the game to take the final 34-15 victory. Rachel Schmidt, Smith, Clouse and Kayla Offutt scored the final nine points for the Panthers.

WLH0179 “The good news in this that a year ago we would have gotten frustrated and then been sitting here talking about how we lost the game,” Ross said. “Games like this would have frustrated us and cost us.”

“It’s nice to be 10-0,” Ross continued. “Think about it, we’ve bested last year’s win total, but just remember, it will be a different game on Friday.”

The Panthers will take on Topeka Hayden at 3:30 p.m. in semi-final action, at Burlington High School.