SALINA — Rebounding, or lack thereof, proved to be the downfall of the top-seeded Concordia Panthers in a stunning 68-64 overtime loss to eighth-seeded Clay Center in the opening round of the Salina Invitational Tournament Tuesday night at Salina Central High School.
Clay Center, just 1-8 going into the game, outrebounded Concordia 33-21, and pulled down 17 offensive rebounds to just six for the Panthers.
The Tigers turned one of those offensive rebounds into a jumper by Jacobi Anderson that tied the game at 54-54 in the final seconds of regulation.
Clay Center carried the momentum over into the extra period, building a 65-58 lead, and survived a late push by the Panthers to advance to the tournament semifinals.
“We got outrebounded,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said, “When they do that, there is no way to win a ball game.
Roe said that Clay Center’s rebounding advantage was a combination of lack of effort and lack of movement.
“It was a little bit of both. It is effort and it is movement. We didn’t block out, we just waited for the ball to come to us,” Roe said.
The loss drops Concordia (8-2) into the consolation bracket. The Panthers will play fifth-seeded Sacred Heart (6-4) at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Clay Center (2-8) takes on fourth-seeded Salina Central (7-3) at 8:15 p.m. Thursday.
Salina Central was a 46-35 winner over Sacred Heart in the opening round.
Second-seeded, and defending champion, Abilene was defeated 63-54 by seventh-seeded Salina South.
Third-seeded Andover rolled past sixth-seeded Smoky Valley, 66-39.
Salina South plays Andover at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, and Abilene faces Smoky Valley at 4:45 Thursday.
Concordia had beaten North Central Kansas League rival Clay Center 45-23 in December, but was playing without 6-4 senior Gabe Bergmann in the rematch. He suffered a cut under his eye during a win over Chapman last Friday night.
Bergmann scored 20 points in the first meeting.
“It is a big difference in the game. There is no denying it,” Roe said, “Gabe is a difference maker whether he scores a lot of points or he doesn’t. We didn’t have another big body down low to occupy space.”
Clay Center was without 6-2 senior Caleb Carson in the first meeting.
Carson poured in 24 points for the Tigers.
Concordia jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the game, but could never put the Tigers away.
Trailing 13-8 at the end of the first quarter, Clay Center battled back to within a point, 17-16.
A steal and a layup by Joshua Pounds and a basket by Grant Holmes gave Concordia a 21-6 advantage.
Marc Scott scored off an offensive rebound, and it was 21-18.
Kaleb Pounds knocked down a three for Concordia to stretch the lead to 24-18.
Consecutive baskets by Scott and Carson got the Tigers within two points, 24-22.
Kaleb Pounds hit a deep three as time ran out in the first half to give the Panthers a 27-22 cushion.
A three by Carson 12 seconds into the second half made it a two-point game, 27-25, once again.
Concordia stretched the lead to seven points, 38-31, but the Tigers wouldn’t back down.
Scoring six straight points, four off of offensive rebounds, Clay Center got within a point, 38-37.
“I thought it was very evident that we were waiting for them to lose it, and that didn’t happen,” Roe said.
Clay Center took its first lead of the game, 43-42, on a basket by Ranson Ford with 6:14 to play in regulation.
There were four lead changes over the next three minutes.
A basket by Ford put the Tigers up 52-50 with 1:39 remaining.
Cooper Holmes scored inside, and Kaleb Pounds got a steal and a layup to give Concordia the lead back at 54-52.
The two teams then exchanged turnovers.
Carson missed a baseline jumper, but grabbed his own offensive rebound, and was fouled.
The Tigers inbounded the ball, and it was knocked away by Cooper Holmes.
Anderson collected the loose ball and hit a 15-foot jumper to tie the game at 54-54.
Concordia called a timeout out with 2.6 seconds on the clock.
A halfcourt heave by Cooper Holmes bounced off the rim as time expired.
Concordia led 58-56 in overtime when Clay Center rattled off nine straight points to go on top 65-58.
Cooper Holmes buried a long three to close the gap to 65-61 with 32 seconds to play.
Ryan Blake made one of two free throws for Clay Center.
Grant Holmes was fouled on a three-point attempt, and he made all three free throws to make it 66-64.
Anderson was fouled with 17.9 seconds left. He missed the first free throw, but made the second, and Clay Center’s lead was three points, 67-64.
A three-point attempt by Kaleb Pounds that would have tied the game wouldn’t fall, Scott was fouled.
Scott made one of two free throws to put the Tigers up 68-64 with 10.9 seconds remaining.
Grant Holmes missed a three-point attempt, and Clay Center had pulled off the upset.
“We need to put this behind us. It is just one game,” Roe said.
Grant Holmes scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Concordia. He was 6 of 19 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
Cooper Holmes hit 6 of 14 field goal attempts and six free throws in scoring 17 points.
Kaleb Pounds finished with 12 points on 5 of 12 shooting.
Concordia shot 40 percent (23 of 58) from the floor while Clay Center was 29 of 56 for 52 percent.
“You have to give them credit, they shot the ball well, and we played poor defense,” Roe said.
Scott finished with 13 points for the Tigers.
CLAY CENTER (68)
Ryan 3-1-3 7, Wilson 1-0-1 2, Anderson 3-1-0 8, Haist 2-0-5 4, Bosch 1-0-2 2, Scott 6-1-2 13, Carson 9-4-3 24, Ford 4-0-3 8. Totals: 29-7-19 68.
K. Pounds 5-0-1 12, G. Garcia 0-0-2 0, A. Garcia 2-1-5 5, J. Pounds 4-1-3 9, G. Holmes 6-9-3 21, C. Holmes 6-4-4 17. Totals: 23-15-17 64.