MARSEILLES — Top-seeded Putnam County rallied in the third quarter to defeat Henry-Senachwine 54-40 in Friday’s Marquette 1A boys basketball regional championship.
Putnam County came out cold against the Mallards, falling to an 8-2 deficit before getting into its groove. The Panthers tied the game going into the second quarter at 10-10, then fall behind again to a 20-18 halftime score.
Keeping their reputation as a second-half powerhouse, Putnam County took their game up a notch for the third quarter. Led by an offensive explosion from Evan Kreiser that saw the senior score nine straight points, the Panthers tallied 17 points in the third period while holding Henry-Senachwine to four, creating a rift the Mallards couldn’t close.
“We were working as a team, Evan Kreiser had a great third quarter and really brought us up, and we brought our defense up,” senior Sam Garland said. “It’s exciting because we got this far last year and we’re going all the way this year.”
“We’re going to come out firing no matter what the score is. It just felt good to come out here and win,” senior Harold Fay said.
Both teams shot cold, with a 40 percent average from the court. The Panthers made the most of their trips to the free-throw line, scoring 12 of their 15 opportunities with the Mallards putting in seven of their 13 attempts. Turnovers plagued both teams in the first half.
Fay led all scorers with 21 points, 10 coming from the foul line. Kreiser followed with 12 and Austin Biagini pumped in seven points. Brian Condit led the Mallards with 10 points.
Defense told the tale for the Panthers, where they led in all categories. Sophomore Alec Veverka was responsible for 11 of PC’s 31 rebounds and swatted two of the three blocked shots away. Biagini stole the ball five times out of the team’s 15 total swipes.
“We calmed down a little bit in the second half and started hitting more of the shots. That opened the doorway,” PC coach Josh Nauman said. “I thought we did a great job down the stretch and just played how we wanted to play.”
The Panthers will travel to Colfax Ridgeview for sectionals at 7 p.m. Wednesday to face off against Roanoke-Benson, another team Putnam County is 1-1 with for the season.
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