(Kenny Felt/Special to the Tribune)
With the victory, the Tigers (18-5) advance to the Class 4A State Tournament with boys' play to begin Thursday in Salina. The Tigers lost a coin toss with defending Class 5A champion McPherson and will be the No. 7 seed in the tournament. Fort Scott will play at 6:45 p.m. against second-seeded Abilene (22-1). This will be the Tigers' first appearance since finishing second in 2007.
Paola finished its season 8-14 but was just as tough in this game as it had been during the earlier rounds of this Sub-State. The Panthers held a 50-49 lead with 1:22 remaining after Justin Dunmars converted a 3-point play.
(Kenny Felt/Special to the Tribune)
"That's a pressure situation," Fort Scott head coach Jeff DeLaTorre said. "There's a huge crowd and they're screaming at you. The State Tournament's on the line. It's big and I'm happy to see them step up in that situation."
Paola's Brandon Goodman, who scored 20 points in Friday night's semifinal victory over Osawatomie, missed a 3-point shot from the right wing with about 40 seconds left. Stark got the rebound and threw a deep pass to Wright as the Panthers didn't recover defensively. Wright found Kyle Altic under the basket, where he drew a foul. He made two free throws with 31 seconds to go to make it a two-possession game.
Tyler Adams hit four 3-point shots for the Tigers in finishing with 14 points. Stark added 11 as he made 7 of 8 free throws.
Dunmars led Paola with 19 points, scoring all but two of the Panthers' 13 in the final stanza.
The Tigers jumped out to an 11-3 lead after 4 1/2 minutes of play as Wright scored 6 points, including the first two of the contest as he took a steal in for a layup. He also had five of his rebounds in the first quarter, most of them on the defensive glass.
But Paola began to rally as the period ended. Dunmars was awarded a basket on goaltending and Matt Haefele made two free throws with 42 seconds left to bring the Panthers within 4 points.
Austin Dent scored on a baseline drive and Jobie Debrick chipped in with a layup to start the second quarter and Paola was tied 11-11 with 6:26 to go.
The Panthers found themselves up 24-20 with 2:07 to go as they made three 3-point shots during the period. But Adams hit a jump shot with 1:53 left and Woodring scored on a double-pump move with nine seconds left to tie the score at the half.
"We knew Paola was way better than their record," DeLaTorre said. "They're very athletic and fast. We knew we were going to have to work to get shots."
The teams went back and forth for the first half of the second quarter. Then Adams hit back-to-back 3's to and Daniel Durbin added a layup to put the Tigers up 40-32 with 2:15 left.
Paola ended the quarter with consecutive 3's from Andrew Henn and Dunmars to get within 43-41. Dunmars made one of two free throws to start the final stanza.
Wright made one of two charity tosses then scored a layup to extend the Tigers' lead to 46-42 with 4:46 left. Goodman, one of the Panther's other 3-point threats, drew his fourth personal with 3:55 left but stayed in the game.
Dunmars converted a 3-point play with 2:33 to go. Then Lucas Wilson put the Panthers ahead, 47-46, on a stickback with 2:07 left. Adams put the Tigers back up with a 3-point shot from the left wing with 1:37 left.
"It was what you'd expect for a Sub-State championship game," DeLaTorre said. "You don't expect it to be easy. Paola played really well. We faced a lot of adversity tonight, foul trouble and those things. I couldn't be prouder of the kids right now. They found ways to play through it when things were going bad."
Fort Scott shot 49 percent from the field, making 20 of 41 field-goal attempts and also went 14 of 18 from the free-throw line, making 8 of 10 charity tosses in the fourth quarter.
"We've talked about all year that when we're in that situation and we can get to the free-throw line, we have the guys who can knock them down ," DeLaTorre said. "When we made the first one and got it to 3 (points), they got tighter and we got a little more relaxed."
Paola shot 43 percent from the field, making 18 of 42 attempts but went just 4 of 15 in the fourth quarter, missing all six of its 3-point attempts. Henn, who was 3-for-3 on his 3-point shots, added 11 points for the Panthers.
Durbin hauled down 6 rebounds and Woodring got 5 himself as the Tigers dominated the boards, 32-17. Paola had just 9 rebounds in the first three quarters.
Stark and Woodring each dished 4 of Fort Scott's 11 assists.
Paola turned the ball over just 6 times while Fort Scott only coughed it up 9 times. There were just 4 total turnovers in the second half.
NOTES -- DeLaTorre has coached five Sub-State championship games since becoming Fort Scott High School's head coach. His teams are undefeated in those games....
The Tigers have won 9 of their last 10 games....
Since the expansion of the KSHSAA from four classes to five in 1969 (subsequently expanding to the current six-class format in 1979), Fort Scott has not lost to Paola in a post-season game (6-0)....
Fort Scott hasn't lost in a Sub-State final since falling to Coffeyville, 48-45, in the finals of the Winfield Class 5A Sub-State in 1989....
Coffeyville will also be at the State Tournament after the third-seeded Golden Tornado (17-6) upset host Parsons 63-45 Saturday night at Coffeyville. The Nado will be the No. 8 seed and face undefeated Pratt at 3 p.m. Thursday....
Chanute's girls (11-12) rallied from a 35-30 deficit with 2:37 left in the third quarter to defeat second-seeded Osawatomie 44-41 in the championship game at Louisburg Saturday. The Blue Comets, who entered Sub-State as the No. 5 seed and knocked off No. 1 Prairie View on Friday, advance to State despite holding a 7-12 record two weeks ago. They will face top-seeded Holton (23-0), the defending Class 4A champion, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night in Salina....
Despite a furious rally, Parsons' girls were unable to get past Girard in Saturday's final at Coffeyville. The Trojans (18-5) managed to hold off the SEK champions, 70-66, and will face second-seeded McPherson (22-1) at 3 p.m. Thursday in Salina. Parsons finished its season with a 17-6 record....
(6) PAOLA: Dent 1-4 1-2 3, Dunmars 6-13 5-7 19, Henn 3-3 2-2 11, Haeferle 0-3 2-2 2, Wilkes 1-2 0-0 2, Goodman 3-9 0-1 9, Wilson 3-6 0-2 6, Debrock 1-2 0-0 2. TOTALS: 18-42 10-16 54.
(1) FORT SCOTT: Stark 2-5 7-8 11, Adams 5-13 0-0 14, Wright 5-7 3-4 13, Fink 1-2 1-1 3, Woodring 2-6 1-3 5, Pytlowany 0-0 0-0 0, Altic 2-3 2-2 6, Durbin 3-5 0-0 6. TOTALS: 20-41 14-18 58.
Paola................. 7 17 17 13 -- 54
Fort Scott.......... 11 13 19 15 -- 58
Three-point field goals: Paola 8-20 (Henn 3-3, Goodman 3-7, Dunmars 2-5, Dnet 0-1, Wilkes 0-1, Wilson 0-1, Haefele 0-2), Fort Scott 4-14 (Adams 4-9, Woodring 0-2, Stark 0-3).
Total fouls: Paola 18, Fort Scott 18. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
Rebounds: Paola 17 (Wilson 6), Fort Scott 32 (Wright 9). Assists: Paola 6 (Dunmars 3), Fort Scott 11 (Stark 4, Woodring 4). Turnovers: Paola 6, Fort Scott 9. Steals: Paola 4 (4 with 1 each), Fort Scott 1 (Wright). Blocked shots: Paola none, Fort Scott 2 (Adams, Altic).