PECULIAR — The Raymore-Peculiar Lady Panthers (5-12) had lost five of their last six games heading into Monday night’s matchup against the Ruskin Lady Eagles (3-13). They needed an easy opponent to help get them back on the right track — and that’s exactly what they got.
Not many fans showed up for the game Monday night, just a handful of parents and students that could be easily hand-counted. It was too bad, because the Lady Panthers played one of their best games of the year, working together well as a team and showcasing some individual talent.
Judging by their start to the game, however, it looked as though it would be a different story. Ray-Pec got down 5-0, not scoring any points in the first 4:20, suffering through three air balls.
Sophomore Taylor Koper changed that for the Lady Panthers, getting them into the scoring column with a fast break layup. A pair of Meghan Maher three-pointers followed, along with another inside shot by Koper, and yet another jumper off the hand of Maher. Ray-Pec finished the quarter leading 12-11.
“We needed to play well,” head coach Brad Gaines said after the game.
“We’re hoping that we can continue to get better.”
Nine different players scored on the night for the Lady Panthers, and Maher and Koper combined for more points (36) than the entire Ruskin team (32).
Latiana Russell, a senior for Ray-Pec, was the first Lady Panther to score other than Maher or Koper, cashing in on a free throw to start the second quarter. Sophomore Toni Martin followed her lead by making a free throw of her own just seconds into the period.
Raymore-Peculiar used the second quarter to pull away and build a big lead before halftime. After Maher made a 15-foot jumper, Koper drilled a shot from beyond the arc and got the ball right back on an assist from Maher to make a five-foot floater.
Martin, Russell, and Koper would all score again and their team would head to the locker rooms with a comfortable 29-17 lead.
If the second quarter was good for Ray-Pec, the third quarter was great. The Lady Panthers outscored the Lady Eagles 19-5 in the quarter, getting buckets from five different players.
Meghan Maher swished three 3-point field goals in less than five minutes and Koper and Martin each made layups starting out.
Senior Suzie Lottie and junior Jordan Little both helped the Lady Panthers add to their lead as well.
Outside of the typical points scored by Maher, Koper, and Martin, Ray-Pec was able to get points from Lottie, Adri Miller, Kiarrah Moore, and Maddy Meehan in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got continue to get better defensively and get scoring out of more kids,” said Gaines. Monday night was a great start.
As the mercy rule came into full effect, the clock ran continuously as the Lady Panthers cruised to a win. The final score was 63-32 in favor of the home team.
The full-court press that Ray-Pec implemented throughout the game kept Ruskin at bay and kept the home team in the driver’s seat.
“Some of the people we feel like we have a shot at beating, we’re going to press them,” Coach Gaines said.
Maher finished with 21 points, Koper added 15, and Martin tallied ten.
Ray-Pec plays again February 3 at Lee’s Summit High School.
“We’re getting better,” Gaines concluded.