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Pittsburg’s Audrey Whitmore takes a shot in the Lady Panthers’ 42-30 loss to Wright City Friday at the Kiowa Festival.

KIOWA – Pittsburg’s girls didn’t start the 2006-07 basketball season the way they had envisioned. The Lady Panthers are coming off a season in which they qualified for the state tournament in Class B, but came up short in their first game this year. In the first game of the Kiowa festival Friday, Pittsburg lost to the Wright City Lady Jax 42-30.

Both teams started slowly, as would be expected in an opening season game. After a free throw by Pittsburg’s Audrey Whitmore, Andrea Smith put the Lady Panthers up 4-0 with the game’s first 3 pointer.

The margin was cut to 6-2 with 3:00 remaining in the first as Wright City put its first points on the board. Another basket by Smith made it 8-2 Pittsburg as the first-quarter clock ticked down under 2:00.

After a Jenna Harris free throw to make it 9-2, Wright City cut it to 9-4 with a minute remaining in the first. Two more baskets by the Lady Jax cut the margin to only one point as the opening period came to a close. After the first eight minutes of play, Pittsburg led 9-8.

Whitmore opened the scoring in the second quarter with an assist from Holly Sullivan and Pittsburg led 11-8. A basket by Wright City cut the margin back to one at 11-10 but the Lady Panthers quickly pushed it back to three after a pair of free throws by Smith. With 3:30 left in the first half, Pittsburg led 13-10.

With 1:00 remaining in the half, another basket brought the Lady Jax to withing one again at 13-12, but missed a free throw that could have tied the game for the first time since 0-0. Both teams missed easy baskets in the final minute of the half and Pittsburg led by one, 13-12.

The Lady Jax had their first lead of the game when they connected on thire first 3-pointer of the game. A free throw and a traditional 3-point play put the Lady Jax up 19-13.

Five unanswered points by Pittsburg cut the deficit to one at 19-18 but the Lady Jax pushed it back to three at 21-18 as the 2:00 mark of the third quarter neared. Wright City netted a pair of free throws and the Lady Jax went on top by five, 23-18. By the end of the third quarter the Lady Jax had taken a nine-point advantage, 27-18.

Wright City scored the fourth quarter’s first basket and their 10th unanswered point to go up 29-18. A pair of free throws by Wright City made it 31-18 with 6:15 remaining in the game.

Pittsburg’s Whitmore finally broke the Lady Jax scoring run with 5:30 to play and cut the deficit to 11 at 31-20.

Free throws by the Lady Jax made it 33-20 before Smith connected on her second 3-point basket of the game to cut it to 10 at 33-23. With a little over four minutes remaining, the Lady Panthers were forced to pick up their defensive pressure and the Lady Jax found themselves at the free throw line on several occassions as the game neared its conclusion.

In the end, the Lady Jax made enough free throws to hold off the Lady Panthers and claim a 42-30 win.

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