SALINA — Needing to find a positive out of what had been a frustrating trip to the Salina Invitational Tournament, the Concordia Panthers overcame a slow start to defeat Smoky Valley 54-37 in the seventh-place game on Friday afternoon.
Concordia went into the tournament 8-1 and the number one seed.
The Panthers were upset in the opening round by Clay Center, and then fell to a hot-shooting Sacred Heart team to drop into the seventh-place game.
The Panthers scored just four points in the first quarter against a 2-9 Smoky Valley team.
It was an 11-11 game in the second period when Concordia went on a 13-5 run to grab a 24-16 lead.
Smoky Valley got no closer than six points in the second half as the Panthers improved to 9-3 on the season.
“It was a big game for us. We needed to put the Sacred Heart loss behind us and play well, and we did that,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said.
Andover beat Salina Central 55-48 in the championship game on Saturday night. Salina South downed Clay Center 74-61 in the third-place game, and Abilene defeated Sacred Heart 63-45 in the fifth-place game.
Concordia scored the first four points of the game, but then struggled against the Smoky Valley zone defense.
The Panthers went scoreless over the final 5:13 of the period.
Smoky Valley got four points from Holden Hendricks and four from Briton Hawk to take an 8-4 lead.
“It was playing back to back night. We don’t play many kids, and we came out a little sluggish,” Roe said, “Once we got our legs under us, we played with intensity, moved better and knocked down some shots.”
Four straight points by Joshua Pounds and a free throw by Alan Garcia in the first 1:40 of the second quarter gave Concordia its first lead.
Pounds, who scored in double figures in all three games in the tournament, was six of eight from the field and five of six from the free throw line to finish with 17 points. He also had four rebounds and three assists.
“He is doing a really good job of attacking at the right moment,” Roe said of Pounds.
Cole Norberg tied the game by making one of two free throws.
The two teams traded baskets, and it was 11-11.
Kaleb Pounds buried a three for Concordia, but Caleb Watson answered with a trey for the Vikings.
A three by Cooper Holmes and a layup by Grant Holmes put Concordia on top to stay.
Andy Osner scored on a drive for Smoky Valley.
Cooper Holmes was fouled with seven seconds remaining in the first half. He made the first free throw, but missed the second.
Grant Holmes came up with a steal, and drew a foul with 1.8 seconds on the clock. He hit the first attempt, but missed the second. The ball was tipped into the hands of Cooper Holmes, and he connected on a three at the buzzer to put Concordia up 24-16.
“That really gave us a little lift and a little more of an edge on the scoreboard. We came out the second half and continued that,” Roe said.
Smoky Valley scored the first point of the second half on a free throw by Walton.
Concordia got a basket by Joshua Pounds and four straight points by Grant Holmes to extend the lead to 30-17.
Grant Holmes matched Joshua Pounds 17 points in the game, and also grabbed eight rebounds. He was named to the all-tournament team.
The Vikings hung around with six straight points to get within 30-23.
Concordia scored the final six points of the third quarter to again make it a 13-point game, 36-23.
Smoky Valley got no closer than 10 points over the final eight minutes of the game.
Cooper Holmes chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds for the Panthers.
Concordia hit 18 of 39 field goal attempts for 46 percent and 15 of 23 free throws for 65 percent.
Hendricks led Smoky Valley with 11 points.
Concordia has a week off before playing a League game at Abilene on Friday night.
“We have to start preparing for Abilene right away. It is going to be a big game,” Roe said.
SMOKY VALLEY (37)
Norberg 0-1-1 1, Osner 4-1-4 9, Walton 1-1-2 4, Hendricks 3-5-5 11, Hawk 3-0-4 6, Schneider 2-1-3 6, Gonzalez 0-0-1 0. Totals: 13-9-20 37.
Coppoc 0-0-1 0, K. Pounds 1-0-1 3, Garcia 0-1-3 1, J. Pounds 6-5-0 17, G. Holmes 6-5-2 17, Toogood 0-2-1 2, C. Holmes 4-2-2 12, Bergmann 1-0-3 2. Totals: 18-15-13 54.