It was a similar scenario, and unfortunately for the Concordia Panthers, a similar result.
The first time the Panthers played Wamego this season they fell behind early, trailed by double figures in the fourth quarter, battled back to within three points before suffering a 64-59 defeat.
In the rematch, Concordia fell behind early trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter, only to fight back to within three points before suffering a 76-71 North Central Kansas League defeat Friday night in the Concordia Junior-Senior High School gymnasium.
“It seems like it has happened more often than it should,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said of falling behind early, and not being able to catch up.
Wamego built the big lead, and then held off the Panthers, by knocking down shots.
The Red Raiders were 26 of 52 from the field, including 9 of 18 from three-point range, and 15 of 17 from the free throw line.
“A team shoots 50 percent from three, you are going to struggle to overcome that unless you match that,” Roe said.
The loss cost Concordia a shot at a share of the NCKL title.
Now 13-6 overall, the Panthers fell to 6-3 in the League with one game against Clay Center on Tuesday night remaining.
Wamego, 15-4 overall, wrapped up no worse than a tie for first in the League by improving to 8-1.
The Red Raiders play Marysville on Tuesday night. Abilene is 7-2.
“We just didn’t play good enough defensively,” Roe said, “We have got to do a better job defensively against those teams.”
Wamego hit two of its three-point shots in the first 3:05 to get out to an 8-2 lead in the game.
Concordia battled back to tie the game at 10-10 when Cooper Holmes hit a three with 1:38 to play in the first quarter.
Holmes led all scorers with 23 points. He was 8 of 15 from the field and two of four from the free throw line.
Back to back baskets by Isaac Poe gave Wamego a 14-10 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Poe scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half.
Wamego opened the second period with a 10-3 spurt to open up a 24-13 lead.
Five straight points by Holmes made it a 24-18 game.
Wamego outscored Concordia 11-2 over the final 3:09 of the first half, and led 35-20.
Concordia scored the first six points of the second half to close the gap to 35-26.
Matt Webb knocked down a three for Wamego, but Holmes answered with a three.
The two teams exchanged baskets over the next two minutes before Wamego scored six unanswered to open up its biggest lead at 52-35.
A basket by Gabe Bergmann and a three-point play by Holmes got Concordia with 12 points, 52-40, heading into the final eight minutes of play.
The Red Raiders would push the lead back to 14 points before the Panthers made one final push.
Wamego led 61-47 when Grant Holmes scored four straight points for Concordia.
Webb made two free throws, but Kaleb Pounds buried a three.
Two more free throws by Webb made it 65-54 with 1:57 to play.
Cooper Holmes hit a three for Concordia, Poe made two free throws for Wamego, Alan Garcia scored on a drive for the Panthers, and Ryan Helus went one of two from the line for the Red Raiders to make it 68-59 with 1:26 on the clock.
A three by Pounds got Concordia within six points, 68-62.
Kyler Anderson made two free throws for Wamego, which was 13 of 15 from the line over the final 2:38.
A three by Garcia closed the gap to 70-65.
Brady Hemphill hit two free throws for the Red Raiders.
Two free throws by Grant Holmes left Concordia trailing 72-65 with 38 seconds left.
The Panthers forced a turnover, and a follow by Bergmann made it a 72-69 game.
Two more free throws by Hemphill put Wamego up 74-69 with 21 seconds to play.
Grant Holmes followed up a Concordia miss with eight seconds remaining.
Wamego was able to avoid a foul, and Alderson’s layup as time ran out made the final margin five points.
“Our kids, they fought hard. They fought to the end. We have just got to find a way to fight at the beginning of the game,” Roe said.
Grant Holmes scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds for Concordia.
Garcia added 23 points, and Kaleb Pounds had nine.
Bergmann finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Concordia was 27 of 57 from the field for 47 percent and 9 of 14 from the line for 65 percent.
Hemphill made five threes, and scored 19 points for Wamego.
Webb added 16 points.
The Panthers finish up the regular season by hosting Clay Center on Tuesday night.
Alderson 2-2-3 7, Helus 1-1-3 3, Webb 4-6-3 16, Hemphill 5-4-1 19, Turner 3-0-0 6, Poe 8-2-2 18, Page 2-0-1 5, Wethington 1-0-3 2. Totals: 26-15-16 76.
K. Pounds 2-3-4 9, Garcia 6-0-4 13, J. Pounds 2-0-5 4, G. Holmes 5-4-4 14, C. Holmes 8-2-0 23, Bergmann 4-0-1 8. 27-9-18 71.