Panthers shake off slow start, thump Tigers 74-45

CLAY CENTER — Grant Holmes and Cooper Holmes combined for 61 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Concordia Panthers to a 74-45 North Central Kansas League win over Clay Center on Tuesday night.
Knocking down 7 of 15 field goal attempts and 17 of 19 free throws, Grant Holmes poured in 31 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
With the big night, Grant Holmes becomes Concordia's all-time leading scorer with 1,382 points. He surpasses Matt Bartz, who finished his career with 1,354 points.
Cooper Holmes tossed in 30 points. He was 13 of 20 from the floor and three of three from the line, and also had 11 rebounds and five steals.
“Grant and Coop got the ball inside. Coop was scoring it inside, and Grant was getting fouled and was hitting free throws,” Concordia coach Michael Roe said.
Concordia, now 15-4 overall, improves to 8-1 in the league.
The Panthers will play a makeup game at Abilene on Thursday night with a chance to lock up their first NCKL championship since 2001.
Wamego finished up 8-2 in the league, and Abilene is 7-2.
“We would like to win it outright. Beat Abilene for a third time and we get it and it should be a good game,” Roe said.
Concordia, which has now won six straight games, got off to a slow start against a Clay Center team that finished the regular season 3-17 overall and 1-9 in the league.
The Panthers trailed 6-2 nearly halfway through the first quarter.
“That isn't the way we want to play. They came out more aggressive and they looked like they want to play harder than us,” Roe said, “That is something we can't have happen. We had a little letdown.”
A three-point play by Grant Holmes and a free throw by Ian Nordell pulled the Panthers even with the Tigers at 6-6.
Cooper Holmes then hit a three-point shot, and was fouled. He made the free throw to give Concordia a 10-6 lead.
Reece Wilson scored on a drive, and Clay Center trailed just 10-8.
A follow by Cooper Holmes and two free throws by Grant Holmes put the Panthers up 14-8.
Bo Richardson scored with time running out in the first period to make it 14-10.
Clay Center got a three-point basket by Wilson and two free throws by Ranson Ford to reclaim the lead at 15-14 with 6:47 to play in the first half.
It was all Concordia after that.
Cooper Holmes scored six straight points to put the Panthers on top to stay, 20-15.
After Lane Liby made two free throws for Clay Center, the Panthers got two free throws by Grant Holmes, a jumper by Cooper Holmes, two free throws by Nordell and a basket by Cooper Holmes to open up a 27-17 lead.
Concordia would extend the lead to 14 points, 38-24, at halftime.
The Panthers opened the second half with a 14-6 spurt to make it a 52-30 game.
Richardson scored for Clay Center, but Concordia answered with a three-point shot by Christian Wetter and two free throws by Grant Holmes, and led 57-32.
Clay Center knocked down a pair of threes in the final two minutes of the third quarter, but still trailed 61-38 heading into the final eight minutes.
Concordia scored the first four points of the fourth quarter and pulled away to the 29-point win.
“We played a better second half than we did first half,” Roe said.
Kaleb Pounds has six assists for the Panthers.
Concordia was 24 of 53 from the field for 45 percent and 24 of 28 from the line for 86 percent.
Ford led Clay Center with 10 points.
Liby and Richards scored eight points each.

CONCORDIA (74)
Mares 1-0-0 2, Coppoc 0-1-4 1, Pounds 0-0-3 0, Wetter 1-0-3 3, Bechard 2-0-1 4, G. Holmes 7-17-2 31, Nordell 0-3-2 3, C. Holmes 13-3-4 30. Totals: 24-24-19 74.
CLAY CENTER (45)
Liby 2-3-2 8, Evans 0-1-0 1, Wallace 1-0-0 3, Wilson 3-0-1 7, Rozean 2-0-0 4, Carlson 0-0-3 0, Moon 0-0-3 0, Richards 2-4-1 8, Burch 1-0-2 2, Hamel 1-0-4 2, Ford 4-2-5 10. Totals: 16-10-21 45.

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