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Paola guard Maddie Pitzer throws a pass over a Tonganoxie defender.

PAOLA — The Lady Panthers are ready to build on last season, returning seven starters.

Paola has four senior and three junior letter-winners back to set the tone in practice and on the court for game day.

Twenty-two girls are out for the Paola Lady Panther program which has freshmen, junior varsity and varsity.

Seniors back for Paola are forward Kate Ediger, guard Emersyn Smith, forward Mackenzie Kuehl and guard Anna Phillips.

Junior letter-winners on the roster are forward Maggie Kauk, guard Maddie Pitzer and forward Ava Kehl.

“The girls have put a lot of work in this summer,” Paola coach Jamie Butler said. “This team is determined to reach their goals.

“We are building better basketball habits so when it’s game time, they can easily execute what we want defensively and offensively,” Butler said.

Butler is in her second season with the Lady Panthers. She has coached high school for several years, working with the Osawatomie Lady Trojans.

Paola was 7-11 last season, competing in a very tough Frontier League.

It will be one of the toughest leagues in the state again this season, Butler said.

“Everyone in our league is a team to beat,” Butler said.

“The keys for our success are executing our offensive plan and scoring much more this year,” she said. “We must continue to use our athleticism and determination to out rebound our opponents offensively and defensively. Defensively, we have to be disciplined to our team defensive principles.”

Paola has the talent to compete, Butler said. The team needs to focus and play hard, smart and together.

“We are athletic and strong enough to stop anyone,” she said. “We just have to be smart enough, too.”

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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