Panther Phobia

Panthers shake off sluggish start to dominate Broncos

WLH0051 Ailurophobia: an irrational fear of cats. Triskadecaphobia: fear of the number 13. On Friday, February 13, 2009, the Spring Hill Bronco Girls basketball team learned the hard way, these phobias are real . . . very real.

The Paola Panther Girls shook off another sluggish start to completely dominate the Broncos on their home floor, taking a 59-40 victory for their 17th consecutive win on the season. The Panthers took charge of a one point game at the end of the first quarter and blew the game open outscoring the Broncos 19-8 and turning a close game into a runaway.

The Broncos were able to hang tough through the first quarter as the Panthers got off to what Head Coach Stuart Ross called a “sluggish start,” saying the Panthers didn’t have a really good week of practice.

The Panthers did get off to a quick start, opening a 6-0 lead, but the Broncos were able to answer, taking a 7-6 lead and a 9-7 lead, but Taelor Karr hit two quick buckets to move Paola back to the lead for good at 11-9. Ashlee Johnson hit the first of two free throws to move the lead to three, but Mollie Ravnikar cut the lead back to one as the first quarter ended, the the Panthers holding a slim 12-11 lead.

The second quarter proved to be the difference maker in the game, as the Panthers turned up the heat on the Broncos. Rachel Hanf got the Panthers started with a three pointer which was answered by Rhi Lloyd to give Paola a 15-13 lead. Then the Panthers dynamic duo of Hanf and Karr took over and after two bucket each, the Panther lead was 10 at 23-13. The Broncos’ Ali Cutting cut the lead back to eight, but Johnson hit two quick baskets and Hanf added a third and the Panther lead ballooned to 14 at 29-15 and lead to a Spring Hill time out at 3:34 to play in the half.

The Broncos did manage to cut a couple of points off the Panther lead as Stacey Czereda and Erika Simpson hit baskets around a two pointer by Rachel Schmidt and the Panther lead at the half stood at 31-19.

The Panthers kept the pedal to the floor in the third period, increasing the lead to 18 at 46-28. Karr and Taylor Smith hit two quick baskets to up the lead to 35-19, before the Broncos put on their last run of the game on a basket by Lloyd, a free throw from Simpson and a three pointer Jamie Hodge and the Panther lead was sliced to 10 at 35-25.

But just as the Broncos looked to get back into the game, the Panthers answered with a 11-3 run to end the quarter. Johnson started the run with a three point play and ended it with a field goal and in between Allison Wood, Karr and Hanf all hit baskets around an Ashley Miller three pointer and the Panther lead stood at a comfortable 18 points, 46-28 with one quarter to play.

The Panthers upped the lead to 23 points in the final period, taking the advantage over the 20 point mark at 5:19 to play in the game on two free throws by Hanf and then pushed the lead to 23 points on a Wood basket a short time later at 56-35.

The Broncos sliced some of the lead off in the last minutes of the game, as Ross cleared the bench starting with three minutes to play, and a minute and a half later the last of the starters went to the bench with the Panther lead standing at 19 at 58-39.

WLH0097 “There was definitely an intensity in the second half,” Ross said. “You really tried to do the things I challenged you to do.”

Ross went on to tell his team that when they do that (follow his directions), we’re all on the same page, and when they are all on the same page, they will either win or lose together.

“That puts all the pressure on me,” Ross said. “I have to do my homework, I have to get the scouting right, if I do that, and you do the things I challenge you to, we’re going to have success.”

Ross told his squad to go home, and get some rest, and take care of themselves, as they have a big week coming up, with a road game at Baldwin and then coming home to host Louisburg.

“What you did here tonight was keep your hands on the wheel for the league title,” Ross said. “No one’s going to come in and steal that league title if you keep doing things right.”