Taming the Wildcats!

Hanf hits 17 as Panthers down DeSoto

WLH0055by Bill Hauldren

The Paola Panther Girls Basketball team ran their record to 7-0 Friday, January 9, 2009, as they ran away from the DeSoto Wildcat Girls 62-38 at DeSoto.

“This was a game I was worried about,” said Panther Head Coach Suart Ross. “We had a goofy week of practice, I hope we don’t start thinking we can just go out and practice crazy and then just go out an beat somebody, because it doesn’t work that way.

Actually, the Panthers showed signs early that the fears that Ross expressed might come true. The Wildcats came out firing, hitting three, three pointers to open the game, jumping to a 9-4 lead. But the Panthers showed why they are rapidly becoming a force in the state, as they recognized what the Wildcats were doing, expanded and tightened their defense and shut down the DeSoto long range game.

Not only did the Panthers step up the defense, they also began to find their offense, going on a 17-0 run through the remainder of the first quarter and opening the second. Ashlee Johnson and Rachel Hanf lead the way in the run to end the first quarter, hitting four and five point respectively.

Megan Hayes and Johnson continued the run into the second quarter hitting two free thrown each to stretch the Panther lead to 21-9. The Panthers continued the run through the end of the half, outscoring the the Wildcats 10-7, to take a 31-16 lead at the intermission.

“We knew they could shoot the ball,” Ross said. “I was worried that we might take them likely, we knew they would be in it till we stepped up and took them seriously.”

WLH0062 If there was any doubt that the Panthers would take the Wildcats lightly went out the window at the opening of the second half. Hanf and Johnson opened the period with a trey and a field goal to open a 20 point 36-16 lead. After the Wildcats Shelbi Petty hit a basket, Taelor Karr hit two jumpers and Rachel Schmidt added a basket to push the lead to 42-18.

Jordan Burford hit a basket for the ‘Cats, before Taylor Smith and Hanf hit baskets to stretch the lead to 26 at 46-20. Baskets by Petty and Katie Gorman sandwiched around a bucket by Hanf closed the scoring in the third period, with the Panthers holding a 48-22 lead.

Schmidt and Karr combined for six points to open the fourth quarter to push the Panther lead to their biggest lead of the night at 29 points at 56-25. Ross began to substitute freely, giving his substitutes plenty of playing time, and cruising to the final advantage of 62-38.

The Panthers face a tough week next week as they travel to Ottawa on Tuesday night, January 13, 2009 to face a tough Cyclone squad, before hosting Baldwin on Friday.

“We have a big week next week,” Ross said. “Ottawa has great post players, and Baldwin is always tough, and then we head to the Burlington tournament.

Overall Ross was pleased with his team’s play and undefeated start.

“You deserve to be 7-0,” Ross said. “Some teams go out and get to a record like that and you look at their games and say ‘yea they’re undefeated . . . but’; you’re not like that, you deserve to be undefeated.”

“Put a smile on your face,” he said. “Walk proud.”