Panthers tumble to Cougars, 46-33

SALINA — Above average in a couple of key areas, the seventh-seeded Salina South Cougars knocked off the second-seeded Concordia Panthers 46-33 in the opening round of the Salina Invitational Tournament Monday night at Salina South High School.
South, a team shooting just 16 percent on the season from three-point range, connected on 5 of 14 shots from beyond the arc.
The Cougars were hitting just 54 percent of their free throws, but made 10 of 12 in the final 2:06 to secure the win over the Panthers.
With the loss, Concordia (6-4) drops into the consolation bracket, and will play Sacred Heart at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Bicentennial Center.
Sacred Heart (2-8) was a 54-35 loser to Andover in the opening round.
"We have to look at, what do we want to get out of it?" Concordia coach Michael Wahlmeier said of playing in the consolation bracket, " Our goal is always to win at least two games when we play in a tournament. We have to go out with some intensity. Sacred Heart is going to play hard, so we are going to have to do the same."
Salina South (2-8) takes on Andover (7-3) in the semifinals at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday.
In the other first-round games, Abilene beat Clay Center 60-46 and Salina Central defeated Smoky Valley, 76-61.
Salina Central plays Abilene in the semifinals, and Clay Center will face Smoky Valley in the consolation bracket.
Concordia was not taking a one-win Salina South team lightly going into the tournament opener.
"They play good competition. We knew that record was not indicative of what they are capable of," Wahlmeier said.
The two teams battled back and forth throughout the first quarter, and the game was tied at 7-7.
Megan James scored on a drive to give Concordia a 9-7 lead 1:05 into the second period.
The Panthers would then go better than four minutes without scoring.
Four straight points by Olivia Mitchell, a basket by Olivia Giroux and a three-point shot by Emilee Holloway gave South a 16-9 advantage.
"We are just giving people too much time," Wahlmeier said of the three-point shooting, "We have to do a better job of closing out on them."
Concordia ended its scoring drought when Tristan Leiszler hit two free throws with 2:30 remaining in the first half.
Giroux grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to give the Cougars an 18-11 cushion.
"It was the rebounding thing again. We gave them some possessions where we gave them two or three shots, and that hurts in a close game," Wahlmeier said.
Leiszler, who led Concordia with 12 points, made two free throws and then knocked down a three to get the Panthers within two points, 18-16, at halftime.
Bre Hogan connected on a three early in the third quarter to put South up 21-16.
The two teams traded baskets, and Jordan Eshbaugh scored inside to get Concordia within three points, 23-20.
A three by Teryn Holloway gave the Cougars a 26-20 lead.
South led 28-22 heading into the fourth quarter, and was up 30-24 when Giroux banked in a three to extend the lead to 33-24.
Concordia would get as close as eight points, 35-27, on a basket by Molly Adams with 5:04 to play.
It was still an eight point game when the Panthers elected to start fouling.
South knocked down 10 of 12 free throws .
"We did some early fouling to try to get back into it and they did a good job of hitting their free throws," Wahlmeier said.
James scored on a drive to get Concordia within seven points, 38-31, with 1:30 to play.
The Panthers would not score again, and the Cougars hit six straight free throws to pull away.
James joined Leiszler in double figures for Concordia with 10 points.
Teryn Holloway led a balanced South attack with 11 points.
Giroux scored 10 points for the Cougars.

T. Holloway 2-6-4 10, Hogan 1-0-3 3, Giroux 4-0-3 10, Thompson 0-0-1 0, Kirby 1-4-2 6, Huffman 1-0-5 2, Mitchell 4-0-1 8, E. Holloway 1-3-3 6. Totals: 14-13-22 46.
Gumm 0-0-4 0, Miller 0-0-1 0, Eshbaugh 3-0-4 6, Adams 1-0-2 2, Boley 1-0-3 2, Leiszler 2-6-4 12, James 4-2-0 10. Totals: 11-9-21 33.


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