WAMEGO — Giving chase from the opening minute, the Concordia Panthers were unable to track down the Wamego Red Raiders.
Wamego scored four points in the first minute of the game, and never surrendered the lead on its way to a 64-59 North Central Kansas League win over Concordia on Friday night.
The Red Raiders led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter.
Concordia, ranked fourth in Class 4A, got as close as four points in the second period, five in the third and three in the fourth, but was unable to overtake Wamego in suffering its first loss of the season.
“Anytime you are playing a solid team like Wamego, and you dig yourselves a big hole, it is a challenge to dig out,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said, “We did a decent job of kind of mounting a comeback. We outscored them over the final three quarters, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Concordia, 6-1 overall, falls to 3-1 in NCKL play.
Wamego improves to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the League.
Baskets by Isaac Poe and Marshall Wethington gave Wamego a quick 4-0 lead in the game, and the Red Raiders would never trail.
Alan Garcia hit a three-point shot for Concordia.
Poe scored on a drive and Wethington scored five straight points to give Wamego an 11-3 advantage just 2:30 into the game.
“We weren’t ready for their athleticism, and they did a good job rebounding,” Roe said.
Wamego pushed the lead to 21-8 on a short jumper by Ryan Helus with under a minute to play in the first period.
Cooper Holmes scored inside, and Grant Holmes came up with a steal and was fouled. He made both free throws, and Concordia trailed 21-12.
Trenton York scored to put Wamego up 23-12.
A basket by Gabe Bergmann and two free throws by Cooper Holmes got Concordia within seven points, 23-16, early in the second period.
Brady Hemphill hit the first of his four three-point baskets, and it was 26-16.
“Each time we made a run at them, we would either come down and give up an offensive rebound or they would hit a three,” Roe said.
Kyler Alderson made one of two free throws, and York buried a three following an offensive board, and Wamego’s lead was 30-22.
The Red Raiders had a 34-25 cushion at halftime.
Buckets by Grant Holmes and Cooper Holmes in the first minute of the second half pulled Concordia within five points, 34-29.
Wamego responded with six straight points.
Garcia made two free throws and Grant Holmes followed up a Panther miss to close the gap to 40-33.
Hemphill drained another three, and it was 43-33.
Concordia cut the deficit to seven points, 53-45, heading in the final eight minutes.
The Panthers got two free throws by Cooper Holmes and a steal and layup by Kaleb Pounds to trim the deficit to just three points early in the fourth quarter.
Poe scored inside for Wamego.
Concordia was unable to connect on the front end of two one-and-one opportunities, and a basket by Dakota Turner made it 56-49.
Cooper Holmes made one of two free throws, but Matthew Webb hit a three, and Wamego led 59-50.
The Red Raiders would go up by 13 points, 63-50.
Concordia scored nine points in the final 1:50, but could get no closer than five points.
“We are going to come away from this a better team,” Roe said.
Cooper Holmes scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Concordia.
Grant Holmes finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Bergmann scored nine points for the Panthers.
Concordia was 20 of 38 from two-point range, but made just 2 of 12 three-point attempts.
“We shot over 50 percent from two-point range. We wasted some possessions shooting threes,” Roe said.
Wamego had nine players score in the game led by Hemphill with 14 points.
Wethington scored 12.
Concordia hosts Marysville in a League game on Tuesday night.
K. Pounds 2-0-1 4, Garcia 1-2-2 5, J. Pounds 2-2-4 6, G. Holmes 7-3-3 17, C. Holmes 6-5-1 18, Bergmann 8-1-4 9. Totals: 22-13-15 59.
York 3-0-1 7, Alderson 1-1-3 3, Helus 2-0-3 4, Webb 2-0-1 5, Ayres 0-0-1 0, Hemphill 4-2-0 14, Turner 3-1-0 7, Poe 3-2-4 8, Page 20-4 4, Wethington 6-0-1 12. Totals: 26-6-17 64.