COLFAX — The Putnam County Panthers came through when they needed to the most at the free-throw line to down Roanoke-Benson 58-41 in sectional semifinal play Wednesday night in Colfax.
The Panthers were 6 of 18 from the line for the game until senior guard Harold Fay and senior forward Evan Kreiser combined to go 9 for 12 from the charity stripe in the final minute of the game.
“We struggled there to start the game, but down the stretch it was Harold and Evan shooting them. They’re seniors and leaders. They stepped up and knocked them down,” Putnam County coach Josh Nauman said.
Kreiser knew they would be keying on him to take jump shots so he shifted gears in the fourth quarter to get to the free-throw line.
“I knew they were going to be watching my jump shot because I’ve been hitting it most of the year so I wanted to take it, draw fouls and make it from the free-throw line,” Kreiser said.
Each team got off to slow starts as each team had trouble converting turnovers into baskets on the other end of the floor.
“I’m sure a lot of it was nerves playing in a sectional game but we calmed down there at the end, and we were able to pull it out,” Nauman said.
The Panthers looked to be right in it at the half as senior forward Michael Doss was fouled on a made basket on a play in the paint. Doss converted the one and one to pull Roanoke within one with 35 seconds to play in the half
Fay came up huge on the next Panthers’ possession as he pulled up at the top of the key with 8 seconds to play in the half and drilled the three-pointer to give the Panthers a 22-18 lead at the break.
“It seemed like we were able to do just enough. I don’t remember them taking a lead after real early in the game but we never had it up more than 5 or 6 points,” Nauman said. “It was just kind of (them) hanging around there the whole time. It’s a typical sectional game, it was back and forth, it was tight, teams were playing hard, and we made enough plays at the end to get it done.”
Kreiser extended the Panther lead to six, their largest of the evening at that point, on a layup after making a nice spin move on the block at the 7:33 mark of the fourth quarter.
“We started off a little slow. Toward the end, like we usually do, we came out and played a lot tougher than we did the first half,” Kreiser said.
Kreiser led all scorers with 18 points and Fay added 15.
Putnam County never trailed during the contest but also never led by more than 6 points until the final 16 seconds of the game.
• PC played Heyworth for the sectional champion Friday and the right to advance to Tuesday’s super-sectional in DeKalb. Visit www.bcrnews.com/sports for updates.
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