Basketball: Down and out – Brock sends Paradise home for second straight year

By Reece Waddell | Published Wednesday, February 14, 2018
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End of the Line

END OF THE LINE – Paradise players look on late in the fourth quarter of Monday’s playoff loss to Brock. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

Hannah Beth Pearson knew what was on the line Monday night.

Along with Paradise’s season being at stake, Pearson also knew it may be the final time she got to wear a Lady Panther jersey.

OUT WITH A BANG – Paradise senior Hannah Beth Pearson looks to shoot against Brock. Pearson finished with a team high 15 points in her final game with the Lady Panthers. Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

When Brock took its first double-digit lead of the game in the second half, Pearson took it upon herself to not go quietly into the night. Pearson drained back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit in half to six, swinging momentum back to Paradise early in the fourth quarter. But the Lady Panthers could not sustain it.

The Lady Eagles forced Paradise into three consecutive turnovers to regain their lead, and for the second year in a row, sent the Lady Panthers home in the bi-district round of the playoffs with a 61-49 win at Springtown.

“That was [the tipping point of the game],” said Paradise coach Chad Woodard of the turnovers. “It definitely helped the other team out, for sure. In big situations we have to make the plays ourselves. I think we kind of got pressured out, and the ball didn’t bounce our way.”

Pearson ended with a team-high 15 points for Paradise, knocking down four clutch 3s. The Lady Panthers’ primary perimeter threat, Pearson hit several outside shots and was crucial in spacing the floor for Paradise.

“That is the best I have seen that senior play,” said Woodard of Pearson. “She stepped up and she knew this could be it. She left it out there and had a great game. I’m very proud of her.”

The Lady Panthers matched Brock shot-for-shot in the first half, only trailing by four at halftime. Each time the Lady Eagles mounted a run in the first two quarters, Paradise answered.

In the second half, the Lady Panthers’ shots stopped falling – and Brock couldn’t miss.

“They just out-shot us,” said junior Maddie Mitschke. “We played great. [Pearson] played out of her mind. I was so proud of her.”

The backcourt duo of Mia Cherry and Rhylee Lavender led Brock with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Because of the Lady Eagles’ potent guards, Woodard opted not to press. The Lady Panthers instead matched up in the half court. The strategy worked until Paradise got into foul trouble, and Brock took advantage of multiple quality looks.

“They have some quick guards, and they’re just one pass away from going and hurting us,” Woodard said. “I wanted to work more on my half-court defense, and I thought it was good. When we had to go to the 2-3 [zone] because of foul trouble, we let some big shots happen.

“They ran some good sets. They screened us well, got the open shot and knocked them down.”

Mitschke finished with 11 points before fouling out. She was the only other Lady Panther to finish in double-digits aside from Pearson. Kaycee Martin added nine before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

Paradise ended its season at 18-13 overall.

“As coaches we try to impact kids, but those kids impact us, as well,” Woodard said. “I thought they played one of their best games of the year. Scoreboard doesn’t show it but watching them execute offenses and play for the love of the game – it was nice. These girls are not afraid to work hard, and they make a coach proud.”

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