Dog day afternoon!

Hayes steps up as Panthers record hits 9-0

WLH0026 The Paola Panther Girls ran their season record to 9-0 on the strength of a 64-51 home victory over the Baldwin Bulldogs on Friday night, January 16, 2009.

The Bulldogs put up quite a fight early in the game, and stayed close to the third ranked Panthers, mostly on the strength of a hot hand by Baldwin’s Tracie Weege who hit 10 of her team’s 14 points in the quarter.

Taelor Karr jump started the Panthers with an old fashioned three point play to open the game before Weege hit five straight points to give the Bulldogs a 5-3 lead. Ashlee Johnson hit six of the Panther’s next 11 Panther points and Rachel Hanf and Rachel Schmidt hit the remaining five points to leave the teams tied at the end of the first quarter 14-14.

The teams continued to trade baskets into the second quarter, Karr, Schmidt, Johnson and Megan Hayes hit two pointers but by the time the Bulldogs Ramie Burkhart hit two free throws the score stood at 25-22 in Baldwin’s favor.

The lead didn’t last long, as Hanf converted a three point play to tie the score at 25 with under three minutes to play in the half. Karr and Hanf hit a basket and two free throws to give the Panthers a four point lead before Weege hit two free throws to cut the lead to two.

Hayes and Karr teamed up for a nice feed and layup at the buzzer to give the Panthers a 31-27 lead at the intermission. Baldwin was hot from the field in the first quarter, hitting 52% of their field goals, while making a strong effort to take Karr and Hanf out of the Panthers offense.

“We ran into another team that tried to do another thing to take us out of our offense,” said Panthers Head Coach Stuart Ross. “They made a real effort to take Taelor and Rachel out of the offense and others stepped up.”

The Panthers stretched the second half lead to ten on the strength of a bucket and two free throws by Hanf and a basket by Hayes.

Hayes was a dominate force in the game, especially in the second half, hitting two baskets and becoming a force on the defensive end of the floor in the third quarter.

“Megan Hayes had an absolutely stellar offensive game,” Ross said.

Weege cut the Panther lead to four by hitting a two pointer and then a four point play as she was fouled on a three point basket by Taelor Karr. Weege hit the free throw and Karr picked up her fourth foul of the game.

Hayes and Courtney Clouse didn’t let the Bulldogs get any closer, as they hit baskets to bump the Panther lead back to eight at 41-33. Alex Zordel hit two free throws to make the score 41-35 before Ashlee Johnson took the game over for the Panthers, scoring seven straight points for the Panthers including a three point play to end the quarter with the Panthers holding an 11 point margin at 48-37.

WLH0051 “We got back to doing what we do in the second half,” Ross said.

The Bulldogs cut the lead to nine on the strength of two free throws by Zordel who hit both ends of a one and one after Karr was whistled for her fifth foul with 7:11 to play in the game.

Hayes hit another close in basket and Weedle hit two free throws and Burkhart a basket to cut the Panther lead to seven at 50-43. Taylor Smith hit a basket and Rachel Enick hit a basket to keep the Panther lead at seven 52-45, but that would be as close as the Bulldogs would come.

Smith hit to free throws, Hayes hit a field goal and Clouse hit a three pointer and the Panther lead ballooned to 14 points at 59-45. Hanf hit four straight free throws to give the Panthers their largest lead of the game at 17 points, 63-46.

Burkhart hit two free throws for the Bulldogs, Clouse hit a single free throw for the Panthes and Enick ended the game with a three pointer to end the game.

The Panthers defense stepped up in the second half, as they held the Bulldogs to 28% from the field, after allowing the visitors shoot 52% in the first half.

Overall, Ross was pleased with his team’s effort and was happy the way his team stepped up when the opposition took part of their offense away.

“If we’re going to get to Salina and play in that game . . . we’re going to find that it will take all five,” Ross said.

The Panthers will take part in the Burlington Tournament next week.