Basketball: Lady Panthers overcome foul trouble, rally past Nocona in district opener

By Reece Waddell | Published Tuesday, December 12, 2017.
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With just under three minutes gone in the first quarter, Paradise guard Maddie Mitschke checked out of the game. After helping the Lady Panthers jump out to a quick 8-0 lead, Paradise coach Chad Woodard thought Mitschke had picked up her second foul.

As she took a seat on the bench, Woodard was quickly informed Mitschke only had one foul, and immediately subbed her in. But just seconds after Mitschke checked back in, post Harley Mayfield was whistled for her second foul, and was forced to exit as well.

With 42 total fouls called on both teams over the course of the game, this became a pattern of sorts.

And although they battled foul trouble virtually all night, the Lady Panthers eventually prevailed, pulling away from Nocona 55-49 to move to 1-0 in district 8-3A play.

“These kids are resilient,” Woodard said. “I thought early there was some tick tack stuff. I thought we were working the offense well [despite] not getting some calls, but we can’t cry about that. We have to adjust as players and I thought we did a great in the second half of doing that.”

The Lady Panthers outscored the Lady Indians 35-22 in the second half, using a 26-point quarter to erase seven-point halftime deficit.

Mitschke, who finished second on Paradise in scoring with 17 points, had 13 in the second half, taking the game over down the stretch. When the Lady Panthers needed a bucket, they turned to Mitschke, who found success attacking the rim and getting to the charity stripe.

Mitschke finished 11-of-14 from the line.

“I’m better at driving and looking for the open man, so I really focused on that in the [second] half,” Mitschke said.

Defensively, Paradise struggled to contain Nocona guard Emma Meekins, who ended the night with a game-high 23 points. Meekins was a menace all game for the Lady Panthers and was the primary reason Paradise was in foul trouble.

Meekins shot 20 free throws, drew over 10 fouls and scored 18 of her 23 points at the free throw line.

“She’s a tough guard,” Woodard said of Meekins. “She’s going to make you foul her. We finally after 47 drives took a charge on her. That was a big point in the game.”

With the victory, Paradise handed Nocona just its second loss of the season. The Lady Panthers have won three straight games and have won eight of their last nine games.

Paradise takes on Bowie at 6 p.m. Saturday.

“I challenged the girls tonight,” Woodard said. “The first half we didn’t rise to it but the second half we found a way. [I’m] very proud to start district this way.”

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