Big night by Holmes pushes Panthers past Cowboys

SALINA – In the rematch before the rematch, Cooper Holmes turned in a dominating performance to lead the Concordia Panthers to an 83-66 win over Abilene in the third-place game of the Salina Invitational Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
A 6-4 sophomore, Holmes poured in 35 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. He connected on 15 of 24 field goal attempts and three of four free throws, and also had six steals and three assists as Concordia defeated North Central Kansas League rival Abilene for the second time this season.
The Panthers (9-3) travels to Abilene (8-4) for a regular season game on Friday night.
Holmes etched his name in the tournament record books. His 35 points ranks fourth in tournament history. He is tied for third with 15 field goals made and tied for second in total points scored in the tournament with 82.
“He really kind of dominated the game. It seemed like he was everywhere. He was grabbing offensive rebounds. He was finding other ways to score. He was pretty impressive,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said of Holmes.
Despite the big night by Holmes, it wasn't a one-man show for the Panthers
Senior Grant Holmes scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds. He and Cooper Holmes were both all-tournament selections.
Sophomore Ethan Bechard finished with eight points and five rebounds.
Senior Kaleb Pounds handed out 10 assists and came up with four steals.
“I thought our offensive movement was quite a bit better. I think that was one of the reasons we put up 83 points, we got contributions from everybody,” Roe said.
Concordia opened the tournament with a win over Smoky Valley, and then lost to Salina Central in the semifinals.
Central downed Salina South 56-38 in the championship game.
“It is always a good thing to win two games in the SIT. I thought we did a good job of bouncing back from the Central loss and really played hard,” Roe said.
Cooper Holmes scored six points in the first four minutes of the game, but Concordia still trailed Abilene 14-13 with under a minute to play in the first period.
Completing a three-point play, Cooper Holmes started a run of seven points in 40 seconds to give the Panthers a 20-14 advantage.
Concordia would not trail again.
Abilene would close the gap to four points, 23-19.
A three by Cooper Holmes made it a 26-19 game.
A layup by Keil Kelly got the Cowboys within five points, 26-21.
Pounds buried a three, Cooper Holmes made a three, was fouled, and hit the free throw and Grant Holmes knocked down a jumper to up the lead to 35-21.
Abilene closed the gap to 40-30 at halftime.
The Cowboys, scoring six points off of offensive rebounds, used a 9-4 spurt to open the second half to make it a 44-39 game.
“That was the big key. When we gave up offesensive rebounds, they would cut the lead down,” Roe said.
Concordia answered with a 10-2 spurt to open up a 54-41 cushion.
Abilene would outscore the Panthers 8-2 over the next two minutes to get within seven points, 56-49.
Ian Nordell scored as time ran out in the third period to put Concordia up 58-49.
Abilene got a close as seven points, 60-53, in the final period.
Two free throws by Grant Holmes, a basket by Cooper Holmes and a layup by Jace Coppoc made it 66-53 with under five minutes to play.
Abilene got no closer than 11 points after that.
Concordia was 32 of 62 from the field for 52 percent and 14 of 22 from the line for 64 percent.
Jesse Patrick matched Kelly for Abilene with 16 points.
Jesse Goodwin scored 11 for the Cowboys.

ABILENE (66)
Johnson 2-0-0 6, Schwarting 1-0-4 2, Hazlett 0-0-2 0, D. Goodwin 1-0-0 2, Robinson 1-0-0 2, Hoekman 3-1-4 8, Kelly 7-1-3 16, Patrick 6-3-2 16, J. Goodwin 5-1-2 11, Barbieri 1-1-1 3. Totals: 27-7-20 66.
CONCORDIA (83)
Mares 1-0-0 2, Coppoc 2-0-1 4, Pounds 2-0-2 5, Garcia 0-1-3 1, Wetter 1-1-1 3, Bechard 4-0-1 8, G. Holmes 5-9-3 21, Nordell 2-0-1 4, C. Holmes 15-3-3 35. Totals: 32-14-15 83.

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