It's rainin' threes!

Panthers hit first seven three point attempts in Ottawa win

WLH0101 The Paola Panther Girls wasted little time taking the Ottawa Cyclones out of the game on Friday night, February 6, 2009, as they hit the Cyclones with a barrage of three pointers to open the game and open a 9-0 lead, extending the lead to 21 points at one point in the first half before closing with a ten point, 75-65 Homecoming victory.

The Panthers jumped to the big lead early as Rachel Hanf hit two threes from the deep corner and Taylor Smith nailed a three from the left side of the circle and the Panthers were on their way to their 15th consecutive victory on the season.

After an Ottawa time out, Mikela Scott hit a basket to get the Cyclones on the board, but senior Taelor Karr stepped up and hit 10 of her game high 29 points for the Panthers, starting with two free throws to give Paola back their nine point advantage. After Scott hit another basket, Karr hit a three pointer to move the lead to ten at 14-4. Ottawa’s Kara McFarland hit two quick baskets for Ottawa to cut the lead to six, but Karr answered with another three to bump the lead back to nine at 17-8. Karr hit another basket and Megan Hayes added a two pointer to answer baskets by Shelby Miller and Alyssa Miller to give the Panthers a nine point 21-12 lead at the end of the quarter.

The second quarter started with the Panthers looking like they would literally run the Cyclones out of the gymnasium, as Rachel Schmidt hit two baskets and Karr hit a basket to give the Panthers a 15 point, 27-12 lead, prompting the Cyclones to call time out with 6:26 to play in the half. The Panthers came out the time out by getting a basket by Hayes to stretch the lead to 17 points. The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes, as Jordan Baldwin hit a basket for Ottawa and Karr answered, a Cyclone trey by Bladwin was answered by a two pointer by Hanf, and the Cyclones called time-out again with 4:28 to play in the half.

The Panthers continued to put the hammer down coming out of the time out, as Karr scored an old fashioned three pointer off a basket and foul by Laura Chartier. McFarland and Schmidt traded baskets before Jori Graf hit a free throw and Hanf hit another jumper and the Panther lead had ballooned to 21 points at 41-20.

To the Cyclones credit, they were in danger of being blitzed right back to Ottawa, but they refused to give up. Ottawa’s McFarland and Paola’s Hanf traded baskets again, and then for one of the few times in the first half, the Panthers were unable to answer a Cyclone basket, as Ottawa went on a 6-0 run to end the half, and cut the Panther lead to 15 points at the intermission, 44-29.

“That was the best first half you’ve played this season,” said Panther Head Coach Stuart Ross. “But you’ve been really good in practice and it showed in your play during the first half.”

WLH0065 The Panthers have been especially good in the third period this season, usually clamping down on the opposition and turning close games into not so close ballgames. This was not one of those nights though, as the Cyclones continued to scrap and claw and work themselves back into the game.

Taelor Karr added to her first half 17 points with a basket to open the scoring in the quarter, but the Panthers found the going tough, as the Cyclones went on a 11-2 run, with all but three of those points being scored by Ottawa’s Shelby Miller. Jordan Baldwin hit a three pointer to start the run, and Rachel Hanf hit a two pointer in the middle of the run, but when the smoke had cleared and Karr stopped the run with two free throws, the Panther lead had shrunk to 11 at 50-39. The Cyclones whittled two more points off the Panther lead on baskets by Alyssa Miller and McFarland sandwiched around a bucket by Karr and the Panthers lead was cut to single digits at the end of the quarter, 52-43.

The Cyclones tried to make things interesting as the final quarter started on a three pointer by Graf, to make the score 52-46, but the Panthers responded like champions, going on an 11-4 to re-open a double digit lead at 63-50. The Panthers called time out with 2:51 to play, and Karr extended the lead to 15 points with two free throws a short time later. The Panthers hit three of six from the free throw line around a bucket by Baldwin to extend the lead to 16 points with just over a minute to play in the game.

The Cyclones continued to battle, as Baldwin hit three, three point baskets in the last minute and the Panthers spent their time on the free throw line, as Taylor Smith hit two of four, Hanf hit the final two of her twenty point night on her way to a double-double adding 11 rebounds and six assists for the evening, and Karr hit the final two of her 29 points and Kylee Mader hit one free throw to close out the Panther scoring. McFarland hit a basket to close out the Cyclone scoring and cut the final advantage to 10 points at 75-65.

“It was an ugly second half,” Ross said. “It was a matter of bend but don’t break. It was nasty hot in there and it affected us.”

The Panthers will put their undefeated record on the line Tuesday night February 10 as they host Nevada, Missouri High School before traveling to Spring Hill on Friday.

“We are not about to take the next couple of weeks off,” Ross said.