That bad taste that had been lingering since a loss to Clay Center in the opening round of the Salina Invitational Tournament was washed away when the Concordia Panthers defeated the Tigers 61-28 Tuesday night in the Concordia Junior-Senior High School gymnasium.
Concordia, which had beaten Clay Center by 22 points in the first meeting of the season, went into the SIT as the number one seed, but suffered a 68-64 upset loss to the Tigers.
The Panthers were able to avenge that loss with a wire-to-wire win over Clay Center in the final game of the regular season.
“Any time you lose a game you should have won you always want to play that team again to erase that memory,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said.
With the win, Concordia improved to 14-6 overall.
The Panthers finished 7-3 in North Central Kansas League play, and tied for second place with Abilene.
Wamego (9-1) won the League title.
Concordia will host Chapman at 7 p.m. Monday in the opening round of the Class 4A sub-state tournament.
The Panthers beat Chapman twice during the regular season, but the Irish are coming off a 54-49 win over Abilene.
Five straight points from Cooper Holmes and a three-point play by Alan Garcia gave Concordia an 8-0 lead on Clay Center in the first 2:05 of the game.
The Tigers would get no closer than four points after that.
“I thought our kids did a good job of defending and causing turnovers, which is what we wanted to do,” Roe said.
Clay Center, 3-17 overall and 1-9 in the League, cut the deficit to four points, 12-8, on a follow by Ranson Ford.
Two free throws apiece by Grant Holmes and Cooper Holmes in the final 39 seconds of the first quarter gave Concordia a 16-8 lead.
The two teams traded baskets in the first 1:27 of the second period.
A layup by Cooper Holmes and two free throws by Grant Holmes put the Panthers up 22-10.
It then started raining threes.
Cooper Holmes knocked down a three for Concordia, but Clay Center’s Lane Liby answered with one of his own.
Consecutive threes by Cooper Holmes and Garcia extended Concordia’s lead to 33-13.
Cooper Holmes led all scorers with 23 points. He was 8 of 14 from the field and five of five from the free throw line. He also had seven rebounds.
Garcia was four of six from the floor and two of three from the line in scoring 11 points.
Ford made one of two free throws for Clay Center to make it a 33-3 game.
Grant Holmes scored inside, and Cooper Holmes came up with a steal and made a layup in the final second of the first half, and the Panthers led 37-14.
Grant Holmes finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Concordia did not score from the field in the first 4:20 of the second half, but Grant Holmes went six of six from the line to make ti a 43-14 game.
The Panthers finished 20 of 24 from the line for 83 percent.
“One thing we have been doing well is getting to the free throw line and knocking down shots and still scoring points,” Roe said.
Baskets by Marc Scott and Konnor Hamel left Clay Center trailing 43-18.
A layup by Cooper Holmes, a three by Kaleb Pounds and a free throw by Jerod Toogood extended Concordia’s lead to 49-18.
Scott and Dalton Haist scored for Clay Center.
Josh Pounds made one of two free throws, and the Panthers led 50-22 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Panthers scored the first eight points of the final period, and coasted to the win.
“I think our intensity was good, which is what you need going into sub-state,” Roe said, “You want to show you are playing your best basketball.”
Gabe Bergmann grabbed seven rebounds for the Panthers.
Concordia was 18 of 38 from the field for 47 percent.
Hamel led Clay Center with six points.
No other Tiger scored more than four points.
CLAY CENTER (28)
Blake 1-0-3 2, Gregory 1-0-0 3, Wilson 1-1-2 4, Anderson 0-0-3 0, Haist 1-0-3 2, Pierson 0-0-2 0, Scott 10-3 2, Carson 1-1-1 3, Hamel 3-0-1 6, Ford 1-1-4 3, Liby 1-0-0 3. Totals: 11-3-22 28.
K. Pounds 1-0-1 3, Garcia 4-2-2 11, J. Pounds 1-1-3 1, Bechard 1-0-0 2, G. Holmes 2-11-2 15, Toogood 0-1-0 1, C. Holmes 8-5-1 23, Bergmann 2-0-3 4. Totals: 18-20-12 60.