The Concordia Panthers were unable to secure that elusive first win, but it wasn’t due to lack of effort.
Squaring off against a Marysville team, riding a four-game winning streak, that had beaten them by 26 points earlier in the season, the Panthers battled until the end in a 57-50 North Central Kansas League defeat Tuesday night in the Concordia Junior-Senior High School gymnasium.
Trailing by 12 points at halftime, Concordia fought back to within five points early in the fourth quarter.
Marysville stretched the lead to 10 points, but the Panthers closed the gap to five points once again.
The Bulldogs knocked down six consecutive free throws to secure the seven point win.
“Effort,” Concordia coach Michael Wahlmeier said of the game as compared to the 76-50 loss to Marysville back in December, “We ran back with our heads a lot in the first game and gave up a lot of easy baskets. We made them earn their points this time. We made them work harder to get their points.”
Marysville scored the first four points, and never trailed in the game, but the Panthers would not back down.
A basket by Nikki Blankenbeckley tied the game at 6-6 midway through the first quarter.
Marysville, 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the League, built a 14-10 advantage before Paige Shamburg knocked down a three-point to close the gap to 14-13.
Rachel Heiman made one of two free throws with one second to play in the first quarter, and Marysville led 15-13.
Two free throws by Megan James just eight seconds into the second period pulled Concordia even at 15-15.
James led all scorers with 21 points, and also had 10 rebounds and five steals. She was 7 of 14 from the field and seven of nine from the line.
“Megan, she did a great job of driving the ball, and that is what we asked her to do,” Wahlmeier said.
Concordia, now 0-8 overall and 0-5 in League play, would go better than four minutes without scoring, and Marysville poured in 11 points to open up a 26-15 advantage.
The Bulldogs led 31-19 at halftime.
Trailing 37-26 five minutes into the third period, the Panthers went on a 10-4 run to get within five points, 41-36.
James scored six of those points and Tristen Leiszler had the other four.
Leiszler, who hit all eight of her free throws, finished with 19 points.
“Tristen’s shot wasn’t on, but she kept shooting, and that is what we ask her to do,” Wahlmeier said.
Marysville got two free throws by Liz Vogelsberg with 2.6 seconds remaining in the quarter, and led 43-36.
James grabbed an offensive rebound and scored 50 seconds into the final period, and Concordia was again within five points.
It was a 45-40 game when Marysville scored five straight points to go on top 50-40.
A three by Leiszler and a jumper by James pulled the Panthers within five points, 51-46 with 2:12 to play.
Abi Degenhardt and Tristin Wicks hit two free throws each, and Marysville led 55-46.
Maggie Lambert made one of two free throws for Concordia, but Cassie Pralle connected on two more for the Bulldogs to push the lead back to 10 points, 57-47.
A three by Leiszler made the final margin seven points.
“It has been that two steps forward and one step back for us. We have got to quit taking that one step back. We have to keep taking those steps forward, and we will get there,” Wahlmeier said.
Katie Lambert pulled down seven rebounds for Concordia.
Wicks, a 6-2 junior, scored 15 points for Marysville.
Degenhardt added 13 points.
Concordia plays at winless Chapman in a League game on Friday night.
Caffrey 0-0-3 0, Manley 1-0-3 2, Schwarz 1-3-3 6, Degenhardt 4-5-2 13, Bruna 0-1-1 1, Landoll 1-0-1 2, Wicks 4-7-5 15, Heiman 3-1-1 7, Pralle 1-2-2 4, Vogelsberg 3-0-1 7. Totals: 18-19-21.
K. Lambert 0-1-4 1, Shamburg 1-0-3 3, M. Lambert 0-1-1 1, Blankenbeckley 1-1-3 3, Nelson 0-0-1 0, Boley 1-0-4 2, Leiszler 4-8-4 19, James 7-7-4 21. Totals: 14-18-24 50.