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Lucky Number 13!

Panthers use big 3rd quarter to down Mill Valley

WLH0043 The Paola Panther Girls Basketball Team got lucky victory number thirteen on the road at Mill Valley Tuesday, January 27, 2009, as they downed the Jaguars 62-52. The Panthers overcame a sluggish start, pulling way with a big third quarter, when they outscored Mill Valley 22-9, turning a 29-29 tie at the half into a 51-38 lead, which they never relinquished.

“You played hard and you made the plays you needed to win,” said Panther Head Coach Stuart Ross. “These types of games will pay off in the post season.

The Panthers fell behind 4-0 before Taelor Karr hit a basket to pull the Panthers within two. Megan Hayes hit a basket and Rachel Hanf nailed a three pointer to give the Panthers a 7-5 lead. Mill Valley’s Whitney Hartman hit a free throw before Karr hit a running two pointer off a steal and feed by Hanf to keep the Panther lead at three. Mill Valley tied the score on a three pointer and Ashlee Johnson hit a bucket to move the Panthers back to an 11-9 lead.

The Jaguars went on a 8-0 lead to open a 17-11 lead, before Hanf hit the first of two free throws to stop the run and cut the lead to five at 17-12. Mill Valley upped the lead to seven on a basket by Nicole Garretson to make the lead 17-12.

Mill Valley looked to take the seven point advantage to the quarter, but Hanf had other ideas, taking a pass as time was running out in the quarter, lauched a long jumper that hit nothing but net at the buzzer to cut the lead to four at 19-15.

Hanf wasn’t through, as she opened the second quarter with another three pointer to cut the lead to one at 19-18, prompting the Jags to call time out with just under six minutes to play in the half. Garretson and Johnson traded baskets to keep the Mill Valley lead at one, at 21-20. The Jaguars went on a 10-1 to open their biggest lead of the game at 29-21, but the Panthers were not done, as they went on an 8-0 run of their own to close the half with the score tied at 29-29.

Taelor Karr, who closed the half with five consecutive points, opened the second half with a free throw and Johnson added a bucket to give the Panthers a three point lead. Mill Valley’s Becky Newhouse and Emily Altman hit baskets to give the Jags a one point lead, before Taylor Smith hit a three pointer to put the Panthers back in the lead for good at 35-33. Johnson and Newhouse traded single free throws before Hanf and Kayla Offutt hit jumpers to open a six point lead for the Panthers at 40-36.

Mill Valley called time out with three minutes to play in the third quarter to stop the Panther run. Newhouse cut the lead to four by hitting a jumper, but Offutt hit two quick baskets for Paola to jump the lead to eight at 44-36. Newhouse hit again for Mill Valley to cut the lead to six, but the Panthers struck again for seven quick points highlighted by five from Karr and two free throws by Hayes and the Panther lead was 13 at 51-38 at the close of the quarter.WLH0007

“They tried to make runs at you in the second half,” Ross said. “But your defense wouldn’t let them get back into the game.”

The Jags had one more run in them, as the final period started, the two teams spent the early stages of the quarter trading shots from the free throw line. Neither team lit it up from the line, each going 3-6, but the Jaguars were able to get baskets from Newhouse, Erin Graviette and Garretson to cut the lead to seven at 55-48, but it would be a close as Mill Valley would come.

Garretson and Graviette hit baskets for Mill Valley which were answered by Offutt and Hanf to keep the lead at seven, 59-52. Karr missed the front end of a one and one and Mill Valley called time out with just over one minute to play in the game, but the Jags were unable to mount another run, and Johnson and Smith hit free throws in the final minute to seal the 10 point, 62-52 victory.

“I was concerned about this game, because of the way we’ve practiced lately,” Ross told his team. “Free throws, finishing baskets, little things, the way we practice translates into the way we play games.”

The Panthers put their unblemished record on the line in another road game Friday night in Eudora, it will be the fourth game the Panthers have played in the Eudora gym this season, as they opened their season there by winning the Eudora tournament.

“They will bring their ‘A’ game,” Ross said. “I guarantee you they will know our weaknesses and will try and exploit them. We need to tighten up and practice better.”

But in the end, Ross said his team should savor this victory, which in uncharted territory for the Panthers, as Ross could not remember a team, at least in his time in Paola that has been on a win streak of this length.

“You beat a good team tonight,” he said. “That team’s 3-6 record is deceptive.”

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