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Fourth quarter run fuels Panther win

Now, this is more like it, the Paola Panther Girls Basketball team really made this one look easy, as they torched the Frontier League’s stingiest defense for a 74-55 victory over the visiting DeSoto Wildcats on Tuesday, February 2, 2010.The win was the Panthers second straight and their fifth against eight losses and move them to 2-1 in the Frontier League.

WLH0908 “Two in a row, this year, that’s a news story,” said Panthers Head Coach Stuart Ross. “It’s been a point of emphasis this week to come out and play good in the third quarter.”

Indeed, the Panthers have been in several games through the course of the season, only to see a collapse late in the game allow the opposition to come back and claim victory. And the most frustrating thing is it’s usually not a total collapse, just a few little things, when strung together causing big trouble and more often than not resulting in a tick mark in the loss column.

But, tonight was different. The Panthers were steady, and relentless, they trailed only three times and never more than two points, the final time coming early in the second half when the Wildcats grabbed a two point advantage on two free throws by Tami Crow, but a Courtney Johnson three pointer put the Panthers back in front and they never trailed again.

In fact, Johnson was just about everywhere for the Panthers on this night, as she tallied 26 points on the night, with seven field goals, three three pointers and going 3-4 from the free throw line. Johnson was there to make a big shot, or get a big rebound just about every time the Wildcats threatened to seize the momentum.

Fittingly, it was Johnson who opened the scoring for the Panthers, staking Paola to a 2-0 lead early in the game. After the Wildcats had taken a 5-4 lead on a single free throw from Shelbi Petty, Anne Kessler and Johnson hit back to back buckets to put the Panthers ahead 8-5. The Wildcats outscored the Panthers 8-5 the rest of the way in the quarter to trail by two at the break, as Paola held a 13-11 lead.

The Wildcats came back to tie the game at 15-15 early in the second quarter, but Johnson put Paola back in front for the rest of the first half on a rebound and put back of a free throw miss by Kylee Mader. The Panthers were able to stretch the lead to eight points with just over four minutes to play in the half at 27-19, but the Wildcats went on a 7-2 run to finish the quarter to cut the lead back to three at 29-26. The Panthers lone points in that run came off another free throw miss and put back, this time by Allison Wood who hit two of her ten points in the game to keep the Panther lead at seven at that point 29-22. But, the Wildcats ended the half with baskets by Katie Williams and Petty to slice the lead to three at the intermission.

Petty opened the scoring in the third quarter for the Wildcat by nailing a three pointer for three more of her game high 21 points, and to tie the score at 29 all as play began. Wood put the Panthers back in front with a jumper, but Katie Gorman hit a field goal and Crow hit two free throws to give the Wildcats a two point advantage at 33-31. Johnson answered with a three pointer and Williams answered with a free throw to keep the game tied at 34, but Mader and Johnson hit back to back baskets to give the Panthers the lead for good at 38-34.

Rachel Schmidt hit a jumper to give the Panthers a six point lead at 40-34, but Kelsey Fisher hit a three pointer to pull the ‘Cats back to within three at 40-37. Wood was fouled by Gorman, and hit the front end of the two shot foul, but Johnson was there on the miss for the rebound and put back, the Panthers third of the game and the lead was back to six at 43-37. Johnson hit another three pointer to give the Panthers their biggest lead of the game to that point at nine points 46-37, but the Wildcats were able to slice the Panther advantage to six as Jesse Spencer hit a three pointer and as the third quarter ended, the Panthers were enjoying a 46-40 lead.

Mader opened the Panther scoring with two free throws with six and a half minutes to play in the game, but Petty hit another three pointer to slice the lead back to five at 48-43. Schmidt hit a bucket and Johnson nailed another three pointer and the Panthers lead grew back to 10 points at 53-43 with four an a half minutes to play in the game.

The Panther lead ballooned to 15 points in the next minute, as Kessler hit a bucket just before Williams hit the first of two free throw opportunities. Then three straight turnovers by the Wildcats resulted in easy baskets by Kessler and Johnson and with three and a half minutes to play, the Panthers were enjoying a 59-44 lead. Crow converted a three point play on a basket and a foul by Schmidt with just over three minutes to play, but from that point on, the Panthers outscored the Wildcats 15-11 to seal the victory.

The Panthers put the game away at the free throw line in the fourth quarter as they hit 13 of 14 charity tosses in the quarter including 11 of 12 in the last three minutes. The only blemish on the free throw shooting by Paola in that time span was a single miss by Wood with a minute an a half to play, but by that time the Panthers were ahead by 17 points at 66-49.

The Panthers placed four players in double figures, lead by Johnson with 26. Schmidt and Mader kicked in 12 each and Wood hit for 10 points. As a team, the Panthers hit 17 of 26 free throws, but were 13 of 14 during the critical fourth quarter. From the field the Panthers shot 27 of 47, by far their best shooting night on the season, and were 3/4 from three point range. The Panthers enjoyed their first rebounding edge of the season tallying a 36-28 advantage on the boards.

“We had a balanced game,” Ross said. “The statistics show that, defensively, we took advantage of the match ups they gave us.”

The Wildcats were lead in scoring by Petty with 21 points, including six three pointers. No other DeSoto player hit for double figures, and the Wildcats were nine of 16 from the free throw line.

The Panthers were pleased with their effort and happy to have back to back victories, for the first time since last season.

“It was a big win,” Wood said. “It is good to have a winning streak. It felt good, we played really well tonight.”

The Panthers will put their two game streak on the line on Friday night, as they travel to Ottawa to take on the Cyclones. The two teams met in early January in Paola with the Cyclones taking a 56-38 victory, but the Panthers were within two points of Ottawa late in third quarter before falling by the final 18 point margin.

PLAYER

2's

3's

ftm

fta

F

pts

Hallstrom

1

0

2

3

3

4

Rankin

1

0

0

2

0

2

Johnson

7

3

3

4

2

26

Wood

2

0

6

8

4

10

Mader

4

0

4

7

1

12

Kessler

3

0

0

0

0

6

Schmidt

5

0

2

2

2

12

Pomatto

1

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

24

3

17

26

12

74

BOX SCORE

PLAYER

2's

3's

ftm

fta

F

pts

Crow

2

0

3

3

1

7

Reichenberger

0

1

0

0

0

3

Petty

6

2

3

5

1

21

Gorman

2

0

0

0

3

4

Fisher

0

2

0

0

3

6

Gorman

3

0

1

4

4

7

Williams

1

0

2

4

5

4

Spencer

0

1

0

0

2

3

0

0

0

0

0

0

TOTAL

14

6

9

16

19

55

BOX SCORE

Team

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

F

Paola

13

16

17

28

74

DeSoto

11

15

14

15

55

SCORE BY QUARTERS
Player
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