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Sabetha pulls away for 49-41 victory

The Paola Panther Girls Basketball team is developing a bad habit of playing just good enough to hang around and tantalize their fans with the promise of good things, only to hit a stretch where they let a winnable game slip from their grasp. For three straight games the Panthers have been in the game deep into the fourth quarter only to see the opposition pull away at the end, handing the girls another loss.

WLH0016 Tuesday night, January 19, 2010 in the opening round of the annual Burlington Invitational Basketball Tournament, the Panthers pushed Sabetha to the limit before falling 49-41. In fact, with three minutes to play in the game, the Panthers were down by only four points, and only seven with one minute to play, but could not get over the hump, allowing the Blue Jays to escape with the first round victory.

Poor rebounding, especially on the defensive boards in the second half, and too many wasted possessions spelled doom for the Panthers, as they allowed Sabetha to grab ten offensive rebounds in the second half, while the Panthers were making only seven shots in the second half, seeing a very manageable four point half time deficit turn into an 11 point lead as time was running out in the game. A three pointer from Courtney Johnson sliced the final margin to eight, but it could have been a different story.

“We knew this was going to be a team we were going to have to battle with for rebounds,” said Panthers Head Coach Stuart Ross. “We needed to get better position, that might have been the straw that broke the camels back.”

The Panthers jumped to a quick 5-0 lead on a bucket by Johnson and a three pointer from Rachel Schmidt, but the Bluejays came back to take a 12-9 lead before Cheyenne Rankin pulled the Panthers back to one down at 12-11. Jacquie Frey put the Jays up by three before Schmidt hit another three pointer to tie the contest a few minutes later. Jill Jackman hit a bucket near the end of the quarter, and the Bluejays took a two point 16-14 advantage at the end of one period of play.

Sabetha stretched the lead to seven points on two occasions in the early stages of the second quarter, the second coming at 23-16 following a basket by Kayla Renyer of Sabetha. But from that point, the Panthers went on an 8-1 run on baskets by Allison Wood, Annie Kessler and Ann Pomatto along with single free throws from Kylee Mader and Melanie Golubski and as the quarter was drawing to a close, the Panthers had pulled even at 24-24. The Bluejays got baskets fomr Renyer and Tamera Stallbaumer to end the half on a 4-0 run to open a 28-24 lead at the intermission.

A basket by Allison Wood and a three pointer from MacKenzie Hallstrom pulled the Panthers within one point at 30-29 to open the third period, but the Jays got two free throws from Stallbaumer and a basket from Jackman to bump the lead back to five at 34-29. Schmidt scored an old fashioned three point play to pull the Panthers back to within two at 34-32, but a trey from Meggie Hall gave the Jays another five point margin. Hall hit another jumper near the end of the quarter to give the Bluejays a seven point margin before Kessler hit a jumper to close out the quarter with Sabetha holding a five point margin at 39-34.

The Panthers got a jumper from Schmidt to open the fourth quarter to pull to within three points, but that was as close as they would come, as the Bluejays would outscore the Panthers 10-2 to open an 11 point, 49-38 lead before Johnson’s three pointer with less than 10 seconds to play cut the Sabetha lead to the final eight point margin.

When it’s all said and done, the Panthers will probably look back at this game and say it is one they should have won. It is most certainly one they could have won, but there were just too many little mistakes which piled up and made a second half come back too difficult to pull off. One positive note for the Panthers, they are getting a lot of younger players into the game, and those players are making contributions on a regular basis.

Johnson and Schmidt pace the Panthers in scoring with 11 points each. Sabetha was lead by Hall with 14, Jackman with 13 and Stallbaumer with 11.

“To have good back ups, means everyone has to be ready to go,” Ross said. “We’ve got to learn for it though, the mistakes we have now have to teach us something later.”

The loss dropped the Panthers into the consolation bracket in the tournament, where they will face the Iola Mustangs in the 3:30 game on Friday, January 22, 2010. Both teams will enter the game with identical 2-6 records.

 

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