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Paola 39, Louisburg 38

It wasn’t the best start to the week for the Louisburg girls basketball team that began with the resignation of their coach and was followed up with a road loss to Eudora on the same day. Despite all that, the Lady Cats found themselves up on rival Paola with just seconds to play on their home floor Tuesday. Instead, the Panthers made their week just a little bit worse. Paola’s Brayden Hanf knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer with just 1.2 seconds left to hand Louisburg a 39-38 loss. Despite all the struggles, the Lady Cats are keeping a positive frame of mind. “Of course this was a tough loss for the girls, no one likes losing a rivalry game,” Louisburg interim coach Leanna Willer said. “After how hard they battled, losing on a shot in the final seconds felt like getting punched in the gut. That being said, I think the girls are already looking forward to playing them again in a couple of weeks on Paola’s home floor. They came to practice Wednesday morning ready to put in work and get better together.” On Monday, the Lady Cats were informed their head coach, Shawn Lowry, turned in his resignation and Willer will lead the varsity squad for the rest of the season. It was a shock to a lot of the players. Although it has still not worn off for some of them, they are all trying to move forward and finish the season on a positive note. “This is not a natural or easy transition for anyone, and we all know that we have a tough road ahead,” Willer said. “It’s tough to lose such an amazing coach in Coach Lowry. Over the last couple of years I have learned so much, not only about basketball, but leading and coaching in general as he took it upon himself to take both me and coach (Nick) Chapman under his wing. He cares so deeply for each of the girls in the program (past, present, and future), and that is what makes it so difficult to see him go. “We have a wide range of emotions about the situation on our team right now, but I have been impressed with how much they want to move forward, play for each other, and finish out the season strong. As a team, we are excited to be able to have the chance to practice together and figure some things out about ourselves. We will all make mistakes, but we will make them giving 100 percent effort and dedication.” Louisburg (6-8) got out to a good start as the Lady Cats took a 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, and although Paola whittled away at it, they were still on top 22-19 at halftime. It was a close game the rest of the way and Paola took a 36-33 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Lady Cats came right back as Delaney Wright knocked down a jumper to cut it to one, then Alyse Moore hit a 3-pointer with 3 minutes and 45 seconds left to give Louisburg a 38-36 lead.
Senior Haley Cain puts up a shot during the Lady Cats’ game with Paola on Tuesday.
The score stayed that way till the end when the Panthers found Hanf in the right corner on an inbound pass and her 3-pointer rolled in to give Paola a one-point lead with 1.2 seconds left. Louisburg had one final opportunity as Moore heaved the ball down the floor and found an open Brooklyn Diederich behind the 3-point line. Diederich squared up for the shot, but Paola’s Macaela Garrett quickly got over to her to knock the ball away as time expired. “I am so proud of how the girls responded after the Eudora game on Monday,” Willer said. “It would have been easy to hang their heads and let Paola come get an easy win, but our team showed up ready to fight. I think that was pretty apparent with our energy in that first quarter. The girls played a great game and fought for each opportunity they got. Our shots weren’t always falling, but we were getting good looks just like we wanted. We even gave ourselves a chance in that last 1.2 seconds on an incredible throw from Alyse, which is all we could have hoped for in that situation. “Naturally, we would like to clean up a few things as well. We need to take better care of the basketball and rebound, but we played from the heart and took pride in the fact that we are Louisburg.” Madilyn Melton led Louisburg in scoring with 12 points to go along with five rebounds. Moore also scored in double figures with 10 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Wright led the Lady Cats defensively as she recorded a team-high six steals and also had five rebounds. The Lady Cats will try and bounce back tonight when they travel to Ottawa for another Frontier League matchup. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. LOU               17           5             11           5 – 38 PAO               9             10           12           8 – 39 LOUISBURG (6-8): Madilyn Melton 5-10 2-3 12; Alyse Moore 3-9 2-2 10; Brooklyn Diederich 3-9 0-0 8; Delaney Wright 2-10 0-0 4; Haley Cain 1-3 0-0 2; Adyson Ross 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 15-46 4-5 38. 3-point field goals: 4, (Diederich 2, Moore 2)