SPORTS HEADLINES

Lady Panthers confident as district play heats up

By Reece Waddell | Published Friday, January 12, 2017.
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The play didn’t go exactly how the Paradise Lady Panthers drew it up.

Tied at 36 with District 8-3A foe Holliday, coach Chad Woodard took a timeout to diagram his team’s next move. There were only 10 seconds left on the clock, and Paradise’s four-game winning streak was on the line.

When the ball was inbounded, the Lady Panthers’ first look was covered – so junior Kaycee Martin took matters into her own hands. Knowing she had an opening driving lane, Martin blew by her defender and made a tough contested layup as time expired to give Paradise the victory.

“I liked the ice in her veins right there,” Woodard said. “She took a big moment and took care of business.”

Martin finished the night with a game-high 20 points, and has been instrumental during the Lady Panthers’ winning streak. While she’s had a few tough nights shooting, Woodard said he has been impressed with Martin’s attitude and play on the defensive end.

In the Burkburnett Tournament two weeks ago, Martin averaged just 4.7 points in Paradise’s three games. The last two contests against Holliday and Henrietta, Martin has started to get into a groove, averaging 15.5 points in both of the Lady Panthers’ wins.

“I had been struggling and my shot hadn’t been falling,” Martin said. “I was just like ‘I’ve gotta step it up.’”

Against Holliday, however, Martin got hot from the floor – scoring over half of Paradise’s points. Woodard knows when she is hitting from the outside, Martin can be a difference-maker for the Lady Panthers down the stretch.

“When [Martin] is on, she can mess things up for the other team,” Woodard said. “It’s nice to see her staying focused and hitting big shots for us. If she’s not scoring, her defense has been there for us. She can be a shutdown defender.”

But Martin has not been the only guard responsible for Paradise’s success this season.

Currently 15-7 and 5-1 in district play, junior guard Maddie Mitschke has also played a pivotal role for the Lady Panthers. Paradise’s leading scorer and rebounder, Mitschke nearly recorded her third straight double-double against Holliday, coming up one rebound short.

Over the last five games, Mitschke is averaging 16.4 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game for the Lady Panthers. Combined with Martin, Mitschke forms a tandem in the Paradise backcourt that has propelled the Lady Panthers during their winning streak.

 

“We’ve been playing together since we were little,” Mitschke said. “We know each other really well so we know what we’re going to do before we do it. We work really well together.”

As district play heats up, Mitschke and Martin will face several tests from a top-heavy District 8-3A. Along with Paradise, Jacksboro is 5-1 in district while Bowie is 5-0. The Lady Panthers take on the Tigerettes on Friday, who sport a district-best 19-6 record.

Looking to build on last season when Paradise was bounced in the bi-district round of the playoffs, the Lady Panthers are feeling confident as they enter a critical stretch of their 2018 campaign.

“I think we can go pretty far if we stick together and just keep doing what we’re doing,” Martin said.

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