LINDSBORG — A bounce back offensive performance wasn’t quite enough for the Concordia Panthers to secure their first win of the season.
Coming off a 13-point performance in a loss to Republic County in their previous outing, the Panthers scored 19 points in the fourth quarter alone, but came up short in a 57-50 loss to Smoky Valley on Friday night.
Concordia cut a 15-point deficit in the final period to just three points before a pair of costly turnovers in the final minute allowed Smoky Valley to escape with the win.
“We were just a step slow a lot of times on defense. We left their shooters open too often,” Concordia coach Michael Wahlmeier said.
Trailing 51-36 with just over four minutes remaining in the game, the Panthers mounted a comeback.
Concordia scored 12 straight points, four each by Megan James and Tristen Leiszler, and closed the gap to 51-48 when Jennifer Boley pulled down an offensive rebound and scored with 1:08 to play.
“We switched to man, and that helped. We told Nikki (Blankenbeckley) to stick to number three (Hannah McBride). I think that disrupted their offense a little bit,” Wahlmeier said.
Smoky Valley missed six straight free throws during that stretch.
McBride made two free throws with :59 on the clock, and the Vikings led 53-48.
Concordia then turned the ball over, and Carrie Albers made a layup to put Smoky Valley up 55-48.
A second straight Panther turnover gave the ball back to the Vikings.
“We kind of panicked a little bit. We quit running our stuff and started trying to make something happen. That is going to happen with a young team,” Wahlmeier said.
Smoky Valley would miss four free throws in a span of 12 seconds, but left Concordia little time on the clock.
A basket by James got the Panthers within five points, 55-50, with 12 seconds remaining.
The Vikings made two of four free throws in the final 10 seconds.
“I thought, for the most part, they played hard and I was happy with that. I felt like the Republic County game we didn’t have a lot of energy,” Wahlmeier said.
James led all scorers with 21 points and also had six rebounds.
Leiszler finished with 17 points and four boards.
Blankenbeckley had eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Concordia hit 20 of 56 field goal attempts for 36 percent.
McBride scored 14 points for Smoky Valley.
The Vikings were 23 of 54 from the floor for 45 percent.
Knocking down three three-point shots over the final 2:30 of the first quarter, Smoky Valley turned a one-point lead into a 17-9 advantage.
Leiszler hit a three 15 seconds into the second period that started a 9-0 Concordia spurt and gave the Panthers an 18-17 advantage.
Answering a pair of Smoky Valley buckets with three-point shots, Leiszler put Concordia up 24-21.
Smoky Valley scored the final six points of the first half, and led 27-24.
The Vikings opened the second half with an 8-2 run to push the lead to 35-26.
Concordia trailed 41-31 heading into the final quarter.
Smoky Valley extended the lead to 15 points in the first four minutes of the fourth period.
The Panthers mounted a comeback, but couldn’t track down the Vikings.
Concordia is on the road for its first North Central Kansas League game at Marysville on Tuesday night.
Lambert 1-0-2 2, Blankenbeckley 4-0-4 8, Metro 0-0-4 0, Boley 1-0-1 2, Leiszler 6-2-2 17, James 8-5-5 21. Totals: 20-7-18 50.
SMOKY VALLEY (57)
McBride 5-2-1 14, Deterding 0-0-2 0, Klotzbach 5--3 11, Johnson 2-0-0 6, Denk 5-0-2 10, Anderson 0-0-1 0, Forsberg 3-1-3 8, Albers 1-1-1 3, James 0-0-3 0, Norberg 2-0-1 4. Totals: 23-5-17 57.