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Panthers can't catch Fillies in loss

When you watch this kind of game, you quickly learn why coaches have short hair, or in the Panther Girls Head Coach Stuart Ross, no hair, because if he had hair that he could grab onto, he would have pulled it out in great big chunks on Friday, January 22, 2010 in consolation semi-final action at the Burlington High School Invitational Tournament.

WLH0068 The Panthers took the floor two days after losing a very winnable game against Sabetha High School, to face an Iola Filly team that was no where near the Panthers in ability and athleticism. The Panthers should have won the game easily, but instead, found themselves on the short end of a 51-36 score, that left the Panther faithful scratching and shaking their heads.

The game certainly started well for the Panthers, as they jumped to a 4-0 lead and then pushed the lead to 8-1 on baskets by MacKenzie Hallstrom and Rachel Schmidt, and it looked for all practical purposes like the Panthers would run away from an overmatched Iola team.

Following an Iola basket, Courtney Johnson gave the Panthers their second seven point lead of the first quarter at 10-3, but Paola would muster only a Melanie Golubski field goal through the remainder of the quarter and when the smoke had cleared the Panthers trailed the Fillies 16-12.

The Panther dry spell reached nearly six minutes and the Fillies increased their lead to six points as second quarter action got started, but the Panthers clawed their way back into the game on the strength of a basket and two free throws from Kylee Mader and an Annie Kessler basket with a little over four minutes to play to pull back to even with Iola at 18-18.

An Iola bucket grabbed the lead back but Courtney Johnson answered for the Panthers and the score was tied again at 20 all, but that was as close as Paola would come, as the Fillies hit seven consecutive points to grab a 27-20 halftime lead.

The Panthers pulled back to within two points as the second half got underway by going on a 7-2 run, and when Johnson and Kessler hit consecutive baskets for the Panthers, the score stood at 29-27. But the Panthers went into hibernation again the rest of the way out in the quarter and when the horn sounded, the Fillies had staked themselves to a nine point 38-29 advantage.

The third long scoring drought for the Panther spelled doom for Paola, as they failed to score for four and a half minutes to open the fourth quarter, and Iola turned the nine point lead into a 12 point lead, and the game for all practical purposes was over. The Iola lead could have been bigger, had they been able to capitalize on their free throw opportunities while the Panthers could not score. During that stretch of the game, Iola went one for six from the free throw line.

Johnson hit the first points for the Panthers in the final eight minutes with a layup at the 3:20 mark in the game to cut the Iola lead to 12 at 43-31, but the Fillies would end the game on a 9-6 run to take the final 51-36 margin of victory.

WLH0120 No Panther player scored in double figures on the night, Johnson led the team in scoring with eight, Schmidt had seven and Mader added six. The Panthers were a dismal seven of 18 from the free throw line.

The Panthers must regroup quickly as they will play in the seventh place game on Saturday, January 23, 2010 at noon. The Panthers return home next week with games on Tuesday, January 26 against Osage City and Friday, January 29, in the Winter Homecoming game against Eudora.

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