Paetow shrugs off slow start, rolls past Jordan

By Tyler Tyre, Sports Editor
Posted 1/18/22

“The way we play each and every day just gives us confidence,” Frank said. “Us together as a team, we just trust one another. We have a goal and that’s to win state. We’re going to push every day and work hard to accomplish that.”

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Paetow shrugs off slow start, rolls past Jordan

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Paetow has only one goal in mind this year.

Coming off a trip to the Class 5A regional finals, the Panthers have thrived this season and continually pushed to be an even better team than last year.

That pursuit has resulted in a strong season thus far for the Panthers, as the team has a 21-5 record and has started District 19-5A play 9-0.

“The things that we can do as a team are amazing,” said senior guard Trevor Frank. “Everyone on the team is so athletic, we can shoot and most importantly the way we play, everyone feeding off each other, it’s fun to watch and it makes everyone successful.”

That play style was on full display Tuesday, as the Panthers shook off a slow start against Jordan to come away 70-36 winners and stay unbeaten in district play.

“The way we play each and every day just gives us confidence,” Frank said. “Us together as a team, we just trust one another. We have a goal and that’s to win state. We’re going to push every day and work hard to accomplish that.”

Paetow didn’t have its fastest start to the game, as Jordan stuck around in the first quarter and had things as close as three points and Paetow only led 17-13 at the end of the quarter.

But that slow start didn’t deter the Panthers, as they turned things around completely in the second quarter. Paetow started the quarter on a 7-0 run and turned their four point lead into a 17 point lead going into halftime.

“We got out of our way,” said Paetow head coach Mike Niemi. “We have a tendency early on in games to negate the scouting report, negate the film and negate the things we know about particular teams. Like Jordan, they love to shoot the three. There’s a couple of guys they have that can just knock it down from deep. We gave up three threes in the first quarter to shooters, and after that they just became aware of things and trusted and believed in what we were trying to do. We have to apply that to the first quarter and early in games. Sometimes we come out and try to just score and forget about defending consistently.”

Paetow continued to pull away in the third quarter. Stretching its lead to 51-26, as Abou Camara had a terrific quarter, throwing down multiple dunks.

“I’ve just gained a lot of confidence this year,” Camara said. “I was a junior on JV last year and I didn’t really have that confidence with the team when I was moved up. But now I feel more comfortable shooting and dribbling on the court and just doing things for the team. I’m not afraid to shoot the ball when I’m open and I know when I’m inside that if I have someone little on me, just pump fake and go up.”

Paetow cruised in the fourth quarter on the way to its ninth district win.

The Panthers know they will need to stay consistent to go through the rest of district undefeated and make a playoff run, but the team believes they have the right mold to do it, with seven seniors.

“We talked about it in the room, I love those guys to death and sometimes they drive me crazy,” Niemi said. “The biggest thing for these guys is to understand, as talented as they are, and as good as they have the potential to play together, we still have moments of ‘me’ basketball. But this senior class is just a special group, and I really don’t know a way to define them, but they’re so special when you talk about the skill, ability to shoot, rebound, run the floor and have size. There’s a lot of pieces that will help make us successful. We just have to all come together and play together the way we need to.”

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