Piper hands girls first loss 42-32

The Paola Panthers and Piper Pirates traded scoring runs on Tuesday night, December 8, 2009 in the semi-finals of the Paola Girls Invitational tournament at Paola, and the Panthers came out on the short end of things, as the teams battled to a 19-18 standoff by halftime, the Panthers could not answer to Pirates in the third quarter, and when the smoke had cleared, the Panther girls had suffered their first loss of the season by a 42-32 count.

Both teams started off cold in the first quarter, with the Panthers opening a 7-4 lead on the strength of field goals by Kayla Offutt and Kylee Mader and a field goal and free throw from Rachel Schmidt.

WLH0301 The Panthers warmed up in the second quarter, as Offutt hit two field goals, and Allson Wood and Schmidt added single field goals. Mader hit two free throws and Annie Kessler added a single charity toss to give the Panthers eleven points in the quarter and 18 for the half. The only problem for Panthers was that the Pirates warmed up too, hitting for 15 points in the quarter to take a one point 19-18 lead at the intermission.

The third quarter proved to be the decisive period for the Panthers, ans they managed only three points on a field goal by Schmidt and a free throw from Mader. The Pirates continued their improved scoring putting another 15 points on the board to open the lead to 13 points, a lead the Panthers would be unable to overcome.

The Pirates pushed the lead to 15 points on two free throws by Danyelle Cole, but the Panthers came right back and sliced the lead to only 10 points on a three pointer from Kayla Offutt and a layup from Allison Wood off a steal by Offutt. With a little under two and half minutes to play in the game, the Panthers sliced the lead to single digits on a free throw from Kaylee Farmer at 38-29, but that was as close as the Panthers would come, as the Pirates were able to push the lead back to twelve points at 42-30 on a pair of free throws by Cole. Mader made the final basket for the Panthers and the game ended with Paola on the short end of a 42-32 count.

“This was a battle,” said Panthers Head Coach Stuart Ross. “It came down to them making a big run, a run we couldn’t recover from, and it was caused by defensive breakdowns on our part.”

Ross went on to say his team lacks early season chemistry, because players don’t have the level of trust necessary to compete yet. “This is not to say the kids don’t like each other,” Ross said. “It’s more a matter that we don’t have the confidence in each other to know we’ll be where we need to be and do what we need to do.”

Ross went on to say his team wasn’t ready, at this point in their development to hang with and beat a team like the Pirates, saying the Panthers are having simple, fundamental breakdowns, which ultimately cost the Panthers possessions and in this case, games.

WLH0273 “We put them on the line too much, and we can’t do that,” Ross said. “And, it seemed like we didn’t get to the line very often either.”

Offutt was the only Panther to score in double figures hitting four field goals and a three pointer. As a team, the Panthers hit only eleven field goals and one three pointer. Ross was right in the fact the Panthers didn’t get to the line very often , as they were seven of 13 from the charity stripe.

The Pirates were paced by Cole who hit for 16 points on two field goals, a three pointer and nine of 12 shooting from the free throw line. The Pirates were 12 of 17 from the free throw line, with Cole taking almost as many free throws as the entire Panther team.

“It’s early in the season, and this is a good group of kids that will show resolve,” Ross said. “Like I told them, we can’t quit now, we have a consolation game to win on Friday.”

The Panthers return to action on Friday in the third place game scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Friday at the Paola High School Gymnasium.