Cyclone Warning!

Karr nails 22 to lead Panthers to 8-0 record

WLH0065 The Paola Panther Girls survived a Cyclone in winter, as they traveled to Ottawa Tuesday night, January 13, 2009 and came away with a hard fought, 52-49 victory to run their record to 8-0 on the season.

“I will never make you feel bad about a win,” said Panther Head Coach Stuart Ross. “You made the plays you needed to win, but the target on you is getting bigger every day.”

It wasn’t easy though, as the Panthers trailed through most of the first half. Rachel Hanf opened the scoring with a jumper off the opening tip, and Kara McFarland of Ottawa tied the score with two free throws. Taylor Smith gave the Panthers the lead again at 4-2 with two free throws before Kearsten Peoples and Jordan Baldwin hit field goals to give the lead back to the Cyclones at 6-4. Hanf and Taelor Karr hit field goals to give the Panthers an 8-6 lead, and then Cyclones went on a 7-0 run to finish the first quarter on the strength of a field goal by Peoples and two baskets and a free throw by Oceana Scobee to end the quarter with the score 13-8 in favor of the Cyclones.

The Ottawa run reached 9-0 on a field goal by Peoples to open the second quarter before Karr stopped the run with two free throws to make the score 15-10. McFarland and Kristen Hendrickson sandwiched one of two free throws each around a Hanf basket to give the Cyclones a 16-12 lead.

Karr hit a field goal and Megan Hayes hit a free throw to cut the lead to two at 17-15. The Cyclones went on a 6-0 run to open their biggest lead of the half at 23-15 before a bucket by Karr and a bucket and two free throws by Hayes whittled the lead back to two at 23-21. Jordan Baldwin gave the Cyclones a four point advantage at the half by hitting a field goal.

The Cyclones came out of the intermission with a McFarland and a three point play by Baldwin sandwiched around two Karr free throws to open a seven point advantage and draw a Panther time out with five and a half minutes to play in the period. Peoples hit a basket coming out of the time out to give the Cyclones their biggest lead of the game at 32-23.

The Panthers, on the strength of two free throws by Rachel Schmidt, a free throw by Smith and a Hanf three pointer, cut the lead to three at 32-29. The Cyclones took at time out at the four and a half minute mark. Scobee hit a free throw to give the Cyclones a four point, 33-29 lead and another bucket by Ottawa moved the lead back to six at 35-29.

WLH0117 Hanf hit a field goal, and Karr a three pointer to cut the lead to one, and then Hanf hit another field goal to give the Panthers their first lead since early in the first quarter, with 2:15 to play in the third period. Ashlee Johnson hit a basket to complete a 15-3 run for Paola and close the period with a 38-35 Panther lead.

Peoples hit a basket and two free throws to open the final period and give the Cyclones a one point lead at 39-38. Karr and McFarland traded free throws to keep the Cyclone lead at one, 41-40. An old fashioned three point play by Karr and two free throws by Smith sandwiched around a Scobee basket gave the Panthers a two point, 45-43 lead. Karr hit a basket and Hayes hit the second of two free throws to run the Panther lead to five at 48-43. The Hayes free throws came on the fifth foul by McFarland at the 2:35 mark in the game. Scobee cut the Panther lead to three at 48-45, and Karr missed two free throws before Peoples hit the first of two free throws to cut the Panther lead to two points at 48-46.

Karr redeemed herself by hitting two free throws with 30 seconds to play to give the Panthers a four point 50-46 lead. Peoples missed two free throws with 23 seconds to play and Hanf hit two free throws at the 20 second mark to give the Panthers a six point, 52-46 lead.

The Cyclones weren’t going to go down easy, as Baldwin banked home a long three pointer to cut the Panther lead to three with 12 seconds to play. Hanf missed a golden opportunity to seal the game as she missed two free throws with three and a half seconds to play. The Cyclones got one final shot off as their three point attempt at the buzzer was no good, giving the Panthers a hard fought 52-49 victory.

“We talked about this at halftime,” Ross said. “We had to cut down turnovers, and we had to try and put their best players on the bench. McFarland spent over half of the second half on the bench with foul trouble.”

Ross was pleased with his team’s effort on offense even though the said the Panthers were forced to play an offense that was really “not our style.”

“We’ll have to play them again, at least once, and maybe twice,” Ross said. “But one thing is for sure, the road to the sub-state championship is going to run through Paola.”

Ross said Paola would face another tough challenge on Friday night as the Baldwin Bulldogs come to Paola, but for now the Panthers can relish the thought that they are 8-0 and will be the number one seed in the Burlington Tournament next week.

“We walked in (to the game) thinking we would win,” he said. “And guess what . . . we did!”