CLAY CENTER — On a night when all was not right, the Concordia Panthers still found a way to post a 22-point, 45-23, victory over Clay Center.
Concordia turned the ball over 19 times, hit just 9 of 19 free throws, missed all seven three-point attempts and had its leading scorer limited to just two free throws.
Junior Grant Holmes, averaging 18 points per game, got into early foul trouble and scored his only two points from the free throw line.
The Panthers struggled taking care of the basketball and couldn’t get a three-point shot to fall, but were still never threatened by the Tigers on Tuesday night.
“You just fight through whatever gets thrown at you and keep fighting,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said, “We struggled handling the ball, but you have to play through it and keep working.”
Concordia, ranked fourth in Class 4A, improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the North Central Kansas League with the win
Clay Center fell to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the League.
With Holmes sitting much of the game, Gabe Bergmann picked a good time to break out of a shooting slump.
Bergmann, a 6-4 senior, was just 7 of 22 from the field in his previous two games, but went 10 of 12 in scoring 20 points, and also grabbed six rebounds.
Both teams struggled scoring the basketball in the first quarter, and Concordia had a 10-2 lead.
Baskets by Dalton Haist and Marc Scott got Clay Center within four points, 10-6, early in the second period.
Cooper Holmes scored inside and made one of two free throws to give Concordia a 13-6 advantage.
Following a bucket by Clay Center’s Ranson Ford, the Panthers got four straight points by Bergmann, and led 17-8.
Concordia led by nine, 21-12, at halftime.
“I thought we were a little sluggish,” Roe said.
Cooper Holmes scored the first two points of the second half to give Concordia a 23-12 lead.
Haist made one of two free throws, and the Tigers trailed 23-13 with 7:09 to play in the third quarter.
The Panthers then took control of the game with a 14-0 run.
Bergmann scored eight of those points as Concordia opened up a 37-13 cushion.
“Coming out after halftime we were a lot more aggressive. We really attacked,” Roe said, “We got the ball inside to Gabe, who was having a nice game, and he finished.”
Clay Center ended a scoring drought of nearly eight minutes when Haist hit from 16 feet 28 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 37-15, but that is as close as the Panthers would get.
Roe was able to empty the bench in the final minutes, and 10 Panthers played in the game.
Cooper Holmes scored 11 points for Concordia.
No other Panther had more than four points.
Joshua Pounds had five rebounds and six assists.
Concordia hit 18 of 38 field goal attempts and just 9 of 19 free throws.
Haist scored nine points for Clay Center.
Concordia is now off until traveling to Wamego on Jan. 4 for a League game.
“There are things we still have to work on,” Roe said, “You have 19 turnovers and don’t do a good job rebounding in the last game before break it leaves you with not such a good feeling.”
K. Pounds 2-0-0 4, Garcia 1-0-2 2, J. Pounds 1-2-1 4, G. Holmes 0-2-4 2, Toogood 0-2-2 2, C. Holmes 4-3-3 11, Bergmann 10-0-0 20. Totals: 18-9-12 45.
CLAY CENTER (23)
Ryan 1-1-4 3, Gregory 0-1-1 1, Wilson 1-0-2 2, Anderson 0-0-2 0, Haist 4-1-1 9, Moon 0-0-2 0, Bosch 0-0-2 0, Scott 2-2-1 4, Ford 2-0-4 4. Totals: 9-5-19 23.