The Concordia Panthers lost the battle of trying to defend Republic County’s Trenton Kuhlman, but won the war by defeating the Buffaloes 61-51 Tuesday night in the Concordia Junior-Senior High School gymnasium.
Kuhlman, a 5-11 senior, scored inside and out while pouring in 32 points against the Panthers.
Clinging to a 52-48 lead, Concordia was able to hold Kuhlman scoreless over the final 3:10 of the game, and went on a 9-3 run to lock up its second straight win to open the season.
“It is hard stopping Kuhlman. We knew he ran the team,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said, “We tried to put pressure on him, and he flat out beat us. He got by everything we threw at him. He had great success. He played a great game.”
Kuhlman and Trevor Allen knocked down three-point shots as Republic County got out to an 8-2 lead in the game.
Concordia used a 12-4 spurt over the final 6:12 of the first quarter to take a 14-12 advantage.
It was a 20-19 game midway through the second quarter when Grant Holmes hit a three-point shot and Kaleb Pounds knocked down two free throws to put Concordia up 25-19.
With Kuhlman scoring six of their next nine points, the Buffaloes closed the gap to two points, 30-28, at halftime.
A layup by Cooper Holmes 49 seconds into the second half gave Concordia a 32-28 cushion.
Allen made a three, and the Panthers were whistled for a foul, giving the ball back to Republic County.
Five seconds later, Kuhlman hit a floater in the lane, and the Buffaloes had the lead back at 33-32.
Two free throws by Cooper Holmes put Concordia back up, 34-33.
Kuhlman drained a long three over the Panther zone to make it a 36-34 game.
Grant Holmes answered with a three, and Gabe Bergmann made two free throws, and Concordia went on top to stay, 39-36.
Jeff Hadachek followed up a missed shot as time ran out in the third quarter to get Republic County within a point, 39-38.
A three-point play by Cooper Holmes and a basket by Grant Holmes in the first 1:04 of the final period upped Concordia’s lead to 44-38.
Kuhlman kept the Buffaloes in the game by outscoring Concordia 8-4 over the next 1:56, and it was 48-46.
Kaleb Pounds scored on consecutive possessions for the Panthers, and the lead was 52-46. He finished with eight points off the bench.
“I thought Kaleb Pounds played a great game. He really penetrated their zone and gave us a threat where we didn’t have one,” Roe said.
Kuhlman made it 52-48 by hitting from 15 feet with 3:10 to play.
The Buffaloes would score just three more points after that.
A three-point shot by Alan Garcia and a follow by Cooper Holmes put the game out of reach at 60-49 with under a minute to play.
“I knew in the fourth quarter, if we kept at it, we would make a run and wear them down,” Roe said.
Junior Grant Holmes hit 6 of 13 field goal attempts and 9 of 12 free throws in scoring 23 points for the Panthers. He also had seven rebounds.
Cooper Holmes finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. He was 10 of 11 from the line.
“The Holmes boys come to play, that is nice to have,” Roe said.
Bergmann added seven points and 10 rebounds.
Concordia was 16 of 43 from the field for 37 percent, and made 26 of 36 free throws for 72 percent.
Allen scored nine points for Republic County and Jeff Hadachek finished with eight.
Concordia will play on the road for the first time this season against Smoky Valley in Lindsborg on Friday night.
REPUBLIC COUNTY (51)
Hoops 0-0-1 0, Kuhlman 12-5-5 32, Strutt 0-0-4 0, J. Hadachek 3-0-2 8, Allen 2-3-5 9, Brzon 1-0-5 2, G. Hadachek 0-0-3 0. Totals: 18-8-29 51.
K. Pounds 3-2-4 8, Garcia 1-1-3 4, J. Pounds 0-1-3 4, G. Holmes 6-9-2 23, C. Holmes 4-10-2 18, Bergmann 2-3-4 7. Totals: 16-26-17 61.