Johnson, Schmidt big in Panther win

It was a long, grueling week for the Paola Panther Girls Basketball team as they wrapped up play in the Burlington Invitational in the seventh place game on Saturday afternoon, January 23, 2010.

But as long and hard ad the week had been, the Panthers ended the tournament on an upbeat note, coming back from a very disappointing loss to Iola on Friday night to take a much needed 46-42 victory over the Santa Fe Trail Chargers.

WLH0005 “After a long week, and just a long time since our last win, it was a needed relief to play hard and win,” said Panthers Head Coach Stuart Ross. “We needed to treat ourselves to a little victory, but moreover, we won by following our game plan and overcoming some of our weaknesses.”

The Panthers got a monster game from Courtney Johnson, as she lead the team in scoring with 18 points, going three of four on field goals, two of three from three point range and six of ten from the free throw line while dishing out five assists.

Rachel Schmidt also had a big game for the Panthers, hitting for 14 points on seven of 13 shooting, while grabbing six rebounds. Schmidt was also 0-2 from the line, as free throw shooting continues to plague the Panthers. As a team, the Panthers hit just 12 of 25 attempts for less than 50% from the line. If Paola is to become competitive in the remaining games of the season, they will have to shoot better from the line.

This game also should have been a bigger win for the Panthers, as they jumped to a 12-1 first quarter lead on the strength of four points each from Schmidt and Johnson, as well as two each from MacKenzie Hallstrom and Annie Kessler.

The Panthers still held a comfortable nine point margin at the half, as Johnson and Schmidt continued to pace the Panthers. Both players added six points to their totals, Johnson hit two field goals and two free throws and Schmidt hit three field goals for Paola. Kylee Mader accounted for the Panthers remaining points as she hit a field goal and a free throw in the period.

After nearly being shut out in the first quarter, the Chargers began to whittle away at the Panther lead, scoring 17 points in the second quarter to make the score 27-18 at the half. Haley Shaffer did most of the damage for Santa Fe Trail as she connected on three, three point baskets in the quarter. The Chargers were eight for eight for the quarter and nine for ten for the half from the free throw line. Free throws are what kept the Chargers in the game, as they went 20 of 24, or 84% from the line for the game. Santa Fe Trail outscored the Panthers 20-12 from the line to make the game very close at the end.

The Panthers added to their lead in the third quarter as they outscored the Chargers 11-8 to take a 12 point 38-26 lead into the final eight minutes. Schmidt tallied four points in the period, Johnson added three, and Allison Wood and Mader each made two free throws for the Panthers.WLH0034

The game went from a blow out to very interesting in the final quarter, as the Chargers hit only two field goals and a three pointer, but went to the free throw line 12 times, hitting ten of 14 charity tosses, which allowed them to get back into the game by outscoring the Panthers 16-8 in he period.

Johnson hit a field goal and three of four free throws to tally five points for the Panthers in the period. The remaining Panther points came on a basket by Mader and a free throw from Hallstrom. By scoring just eight points in the final quarter, the Panthers let the Chargers come back, but they had built a big enough lead to take the victory.

“I always tell the kids, if you deserve to win, you will,” Ross said. “There’s really no such thing as losing and deserving to win. It always comes down to doing more things right than the other team.”

The Panthers get to spend the next week at home, as they take to the PHS hardwoods on Tuesday night, January 25, 2010 against Osage City and then take on Eudora on Friday night, January 29, 2010 in the annual Winter Homecoming game.

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