The Concordia Panthers didn’t win the North Central Kansas League championship by defeating Wamego 68-57 on Friday night, but they put themselves in position to do so.
By avenging their lone league loss to Wamego, the Panthers took sole possession of first place at 7-1.
Concordia, 13-4 overall, plays a league game at Clay Center on Tuesday night and then finishes up the regular season with a makeup game at Abilene on Thursday.
Wamego, 9-10 overall, falls to 7-2 in the NCKL. Abilene is 6-2 and has games against Chapman and Concordia remaining.
“We were out of it if we lost. It was a must win game for us,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said, “We have a chance to win the league now. It is a great feeling.”
Concordia had a 13-point lead, 54-41, on Wamego in the fourth quarter, but didn’t put the game away until the final seconds.
Trailing by 13 points, the Red Raiders got consecutive three-point shots by Jared Ayres and Kyler Alderson to close the gap to 54-47.
Wamego knocked down nine threes in the game.
“They are very well coached and shoot the ball very well,” Roe said, “When you shoot the ball as well as they did, 10 points is not a big lead.”
Grant Holmes made one of two free throws to give Concordia a 55-47 lead, but Ayres connected on another three.
Two free throws by Holmes put the Panthers up 57-50.
Wamego got two free throws by Eli Miller and a three-point play by Alderson to cut the gap to 57-55.
Cooper Holmes made two free throws, and Concordia led 59-55 with 3:07 remaining in the game.
Miller scored inside to again pull the Red Raiders within two points, 59-57.
Neither team would score again until Cooper Holmes made two free throws to push the lead to 61-57 with 1:12 on the clock.
Cooper Holmes led all scorers with 30 points and pulled down 17 rebounds. He was 9 of 19 from the field and 11 of 12 from the line.
Concordia came up with a steal, and Grant Holmes was fouled going in for a layup.
Alderson was also called for a technical foul with 48 seconds to play.
Grant Holmes made all four free throws.
“Grant is making 80 percent for the year, so it was four points and ball,” Roe said.
Concordia inbounded the ball and Cooper Holmes was fouled He made one of two to make it a 66-57 game.
Two more free throws by Cooper Holmes made the final margin 13 points.
“I thought we did a good job of responding to the runs they made,” Roe said.
Grant Holmes was four of eight from the field and 13 of 17 from the line in scoring 22 points and had six rebounds.
Kaleb Pounds scored eight points for the Panthers.
Concordia finished 27 of 33 from the free throw line compared to 8 of 11 for Wamego.
Ayres and Alderson scored 14 points each for the Red Raiders, and Miller added 13 points.
Pounds and Grant Holmes knocked down threes as Concordia got out to a 10-2 lead in the game.
Wamego fought back to go up 12-10.
A follow by Cooper Holmes pulled the Panthers even at 12-12 heading into the second quarter.
Ayres hit a three, and Wamego led 15-12.
Threes by Pounds and Cooper Holmes and a free throw gave Concordia the lead back at 19-15.
The Panthers would not trail again.
Leading 28-24 at halftime, the Panthers used a 12-5 spurt to open the second half to make it 40-29.
Concordia led by 13 points in the final period when Wamego made one last run that came up short.
The Panthers play a makeup game at Pike Valley tonight.
Ten Eyck 0-0-4 0, Ayres 5-0-4 14, Stewart 0-2-2 2, York 2-2-3 8, Alderson 6-1-5 14, Blain 2-0-3 6, Miller 5-3-4 13. Totals: 20-8-25 57.
Coppoc 1-0-4 3, Pounds 2-2-4 8, Wetter 0-0-1 0, Bechard 1-1-3 3, G. Holmes 4-13-3 22, Nordell 1-0-1 2, C. Holmes 9-11-1 30. Totals: 18-27-15 68.