9-0 run sparks Indians over Panthers

The Paola Panther Girls are suffering through a rough season, much like their male counterparts, the only advantage Panthers Head Coach Stuart Ross has over his boys counterpart Dave Cash is the fact that Ross has no hair to pull out, and Cash to his credit keeps his closely cropped so he can’t get ahold of any. If either coach had hair of any length it would be pulled out in great big chunks.

WLH0037 The Panther girls played another one of those games where you look back and say, “they really should have won that game,” and they should have. But what it all boiled down to was a bunch of little things added up over the course of the game to equal a 49-46 defeat at the hands of the Osage City Indians on Tuesday, January 26, 2010 in Paola.

The killer of the night, and the thing that will be pointed to was a 9-0 run the Indians went on early in the fourth quarter that turned a three point Panther lead into a six point Indian lead which prove to be too much for the Panthers to recover from.

Yes, the Panthers battled back to have the game tied with time running out, but the Indians were able to score on a point blank basket by Carly Spicer with less than ten seconds to play to put the Indians up for good. Spicer’s basket was another example of a little thing gone wrong, as the Panthers should have never allowed Spicer to get off the shot, she should have been fouled and forced to make the free throws. Although Spicer was 4-4 from the line and the Indians had made a respectable 13 of 19 for the game, still you can’t give up a point blank shot with time running out and expect to come away with a favorable result.

“We were in a position to win, and we made some mistakes,” Ross said. “We should have fouled on that last basket, and we talked about that in the locker room after the game.”

But the dramatics of the last few seconds might not have played out that way if the Panthers had been a little more focused and intense earlier in the quarter. The Panthers took a 38-37 lead into the quarter and Allison Wood hit a jumper to open the quarter to up the lead to four. From that point, Spicer hit a close in shot, and then Katie Schroeder hit a jumper from beyond the arc and was fouled by Cheyenne Rankin. Schroeder hit the free throw and just like that the Panther lead had vanished and they found themselves trailing 43-40. Leah Garland hit another three pointer and the Osage City lead had grown to six points at 46-40.

Give the Panthers credit, they battled back, Courtney Johnson made a conventional three pointer to cut the lead back to three at 46-43, and Rarchel Schmidt hit a jumper a shot time later and with about a minute to play the Panthers were right back in the game at 46-45. Mackenzie Hallstrom tied the score with one of two free throw, setting up the final seconds of the game.

“They got back to back three’s, because we were standing around, and we committed five turnover in the fourth quarter,” Ross said. “We didn’t have many turnovers earlier in the game, and we just can’t leave the paint wide open like we did late in the game.”

The bad part about this whole thing is the Panthers wasted another good three quarters of basketball. Although they trailed at the end of the first quarter, they played inspired ball in the second quarter, and took a 29-25 lead to the locker room at halftime. The second quarter saw the Panthers turn the one point deficit into a seven point lead, as they opened the second quarter with a 10-2 run to go form trailing 13-16 to leading 23-16 on the strength of three baskets by Kylee Mader and one each by Hallstrom and Johnson. Mader and Annie Kessler kept the Panthers in the lead, and even when Spicer had cut the deficit to just two at 27-25, Ann Marie Pomatto came up big and hit a nice layup off a back cut at the buzzer to give Paola a 29-25 halftime advantage.

“There were times when we really played a great game,” Ross said. “The first half may have been the best half of basketball we’ve played all year. We came out ready to play and focused, and when they started off hot, we dug down and played hard the rest of the way.”

The teams played evenly through the third quarter, and the Panthers still lead by four a little over half way through at 36-32, but the Indians pulled ahead on a three pointer by Schroeder and a bucket by Spicer, taking a 37-36 lead. Johnson gave the lead back to the Panthers as time expired in the quarter and the Panthers took a 38-37 lead to the final eight minutes.

The Panthers were paced by Johnson with 18 points and Mader with 12, no other Panther player scored in double figures on the night. The Indians were lead by Spicer and Schroeder who hit for 18 and 12 respectively.

The Panthers will return to the court on Friday, January 29, 2010 in the annual Winter Homecoming game when they take on the Eudora Cardinals.

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