Taelor Karr returns, joins Rachel Hanf to lead Panthers to 78-40 win
The Panthers stretched the lead in the second quarter, wasting little time in upping the advantage to double digits and then, at the 3:40 mark in the second quarter, taking a 20 point lead on the strength of a Rachel Hanf three pointer. The Panthers took their biggest lead of the half when Kylee Mader hit two free throws at the 1:40 mark in the quarter to give Paola a 42-14 lead. The two teams traded buckets in the last minute of the half and Paola went to the locker room with a comfortable 44-18 lead at the half.
Whatever problems the Panthers had starting the game were not there starting the second half, as Paola jumped all over the Cyclones to start the period, eventually stretching the lead to 40 points on the strength of a Courtney Johnson basket with a little over a minute to play in the quarter at 65-25. Defense was the determining factor in the third period which saw the Panthers outscore Ward 22-7.
“I thought the tipping factor was the defense,” Ross said. “We will go as far as our defense takes us this year. At the beginning when we couldn’t dump the ball in the ocean, our defense kept it close until our running game warmed up.”
It was a all around team effort in the third period, as six Panthers scored baskets, lead by Karr with six points, while the defense gave up just three baskets early in the period, and limited Ward to only a free throw for the last half of the period.
“Our defense was very solid for the first game of the year.” said Ross “We gave up few offensive boards, we kept ball pressure on Ward, and we created turnovers. If our defensive effort continues, we have a chance of winning the championship.”
by Bill Hauldren
The Paola Panther Girls Basketball team got off to a good start on the season by downing the Bishop Ward Cyclones 78-40 in the opening game of the Eudora Cardinal Invitational Monday, December 8, in Eudora.
The Panthers welcomed back their K-State bound point guard Taelor Karr, who missed all of last season recovering from a knee injury in fine fashion, as she and fellow senior and soon to be Emporia State player Rachel Hanf led the Panthers to the 38 point blow out victory.
Paola was a little slow out of the gate though, as making a basket early in the contest proved to be a little difficult. Panther Head Coach Stuart Ross dismissed the idea that his team went through a few jitters in the opening minutes of the game.
“Well, if we did actually have the jitters, it didn’t last long,” he said. “I would be worried if we played “jittery” for an entire half.”
“It really wasn’t like we were just all-around flat; we came out and set the pace of the game, our defense was aggressive, and we had few mental errors,” Ross continued. “We simply couldn’t get the ball in the hole for awhile.”
But, once the lid was lifted for the Panthers, it was pretty smooth sailing the rest of the way, as the Cyclones proved no match for the aggressive defense and the running offense of the Panthers. After failing on several attempts early in the game, and falling behind 4-0, the Panthers had taken control of the game by the end of the first period, leading by a score of 18-9
The ability to get out and move up and down the floor will be a hallmark for the Panthers this year. Ross and his team know that they will want to get out and move the ball at a fast pace, but he is also aware that it won’t always be this easy.
“Our running game was very impressive,” Ross said. “Obviously it won’t be that effective as the season goes on because people will make it such an emphasis to stop our running game.”
“However, we are always going to push the ball,” he continued. “We need to understand, though, that our running game won’t always be that easy. Our half-court offense was, well, hard to evaluate. We didn’t have much of a chance to establish our half-court offense.”
The Panthers increased the lead to 41 points on an Allison Wood free throw in the final seconds of the period. The big lead gave Ross the ability to clear his bench, giving many girls much needed playing time. The bench played effectively through the fourth period, and although being outscored 12-15, Ross was pleased with his reserves.
“It was nice to utilize our bench. In these early tournaments, you want a chance to see different combinations and determine what players can contribute at the varsity level,” Ross said “I thought our bench was very effective in carrying the momentum we started the game with. The deeper we can make the bench, the more versatile we can be as a team.”
The Panthers return to action tonight in the second round of the tournament where the will face the Piper Pirates in a 7:00 p.m. tipoff at Eudora. The Pirates defeated Wellsville in the first round.