Grant Holmes was able to give the Concordia Panthers a lift while falling to the floor.
Concordia had a slim 46-43 lead on a North Central Kansas League rival Abilene when Holmes grabbed an offensive rebound, took a bump from a defender and put the ball up off the backboard while falling to the floor.
The shot would drop, and a foul was called. Holmes made the free throw to extend the Panthers’ lead to 49-43.
Abilene would get no closer than four points after that as Concordia captured a 61-51 victory Friday night in the Concordia Junior-Senior High School gymnasium.
“It was a momentum swinger. He makes a three-point play and it gives us a little more confidence on the defensive end,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said, “We were almost a little unsure of ourselves and when we saw the ball fall it gave us a little more confidence to finish the game.”
Concordia, after opening the season with a loss at Beloit, has won four straight to head into the semester break at 4-1 overall and 2-0 in league play.
The Panthers are off until hosting Clay Center on Jan. 7.
“No better way than to go into break with a big win over a rival,” Roe said.
Concordia was down 6-2 in the early going but got four straight points by Cooper Holmes and a three-point shot by Jace Coppoc to go up 9-6.
The Panthers would not trail again.
Concordia led 18-12 at the end of the first quarter, and baskets by Kaleb Pounds and Gilberth Garcia in the first 39 seconds of the second period made it a 22-12.
Abilene, 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the league, got as close as eight points, 26-18, when Keil Kelly hit a three-point shot.
A three-point play by Grant Holmes gave Concordia a 29-18 cushion.
Holmes finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals.
Jesse Goodwin scored on a follow for Abilene, but Grant Holmes got a floater to drop as time ran out in the half, and the Panthers led 31-20.
A pair of three-point baskets by Pounds, who scored 12 points, helped Concordia maintain the double digit lead through the first five minutes of the second half.
Concordia led 41-31 when Abilene scored six points in 42 seconds to close the gap to 41-37.
“Every team is going to make a run. We came out the second half and were a little flat,” Roe said, “You have to give them credit, they came out and made some shots and it took us a while to answer.”
Baskets by Garcia and Pounds upped Concordia’s lead to 45-37.
Kelly made a layup with time running out in the third quarter, and Abilene trailed just 45-39.
The Cowboys would whittle the Panthers’ lead to 46-43 when Zach Barbieri hit from 15 feet with 6:11 to play.
Holmes then completed the falling down three-point play to make it 49-43.
Jesse Patrick scored for Abilene.
Two free throws by Grant Holmes and a jumper by Ethan Bechard extended Concordia’s lead to 53-45 with 4:00 remaining.
“We are starting to find our roles. Jace (Coppoc) got a shot to fall. Ethan (Bechard) made a drive and a shot, and Gil (Garcia) did a really good job of taking care of the ball. I think it will just continue to get better,” Roe said.
Abilene got within six points, 53-47, but Cooper Holmes scored seven points down the stretch to help the Panthers secure the win.
Cooper Holmes led all scorers with 19 points and also had eight rebounds and six steals.
Pounds had four assists to go along with his 12 points.
Concordia shot 50 percent (23 of 46) from the field.
Patrick led Abilene with 16 points.
Goodwin added 13 points for the Cowboys.
Stalder 0-0-1 0, Hoekman 3-0-4 6, Kelly 3-0-3 7, Patrick 7-2-5 16, Goodwin 6-1-1 13, Barbieri 4-1-1 9. Totals: 23-4-15 51.
Coppoc 1-0-3 3, Pounds 5-0-2 12, Garcia 2-1-0 5, Bechard 3-0-1 6, G. Holmes 5-6-3 16, C. Holmes 7-4-4 19. Totals: 23-11-13 61.