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Panthers survive 2nd-half lull, 64-50

Published: Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 10:36 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 10:41 a.m. CDT
Caption
(CNA photo by LARRY PETERSON)
Creston senior center Briar Evans (41) splits Red Oak defenders Pete Walker (left) and Tanner Johnson for a short-range shot during Friday's 64-50 Panther victory. Evans had eight points and three offensive rebounds as the Panthers improved to 8-0.

RED OAK — The No. 3-rated Creston boys basketball team nearly went into holiday break mode a little too early Friday night.

After blowing out the host Tigers 19-2 in the first quarter, including a perfectly executed lob off the backboard by Trey Thomsen for a two-handed slam dunk by Luke Neitzel, the Panthers found themselves in a two-possession game (49-43) with 4:00 to play.

At that point, the Panthers had been outscored 41-30 since the decisive first quarter.

But in the end, free throw shooting down the stretch with the Tigers fouling against Creston’s spread offense, allowed the Panthers to stay unbeaten (8-0) at the break with a 64-50 victory.

Creston also stands alone atop the Hawkeye 10 Conference at 4-0. Red Oak falls to 3-5 overall and 2-4 in league play.

The Tigers trailed 32-12 at halftime, but started their furious comeback led by guard Pete Walker and forward Tanner Johnson with a 20-12 third quarter. Then, an 11-5 spurt at the start of the final period closed the gap to six points.

“We started getting better shots,” said Red Oak coach Bryan White. “We just needed a little more in the first half. Give Creston credit, they made their free throws down the stretch. They’re a team that has some size and shooters. There’s a reason they’re 8-0.”

With the late batch of free throws as Red Oak fouled to stop the clock, Creston finished 24-of-34 (70.6 percent) at the stripe, compared to just 11-16 by the Tigers.

“Early we were hitting some shots and defensively playing pretty well,” Creston coach Billy Hiatt said. “We kind of fell asleep later on. We fell apart for a little while. I think not having school for two days hurts you in trying to keep any kind of rhythm. But it’s a win. We’ll take it on the road.”

Colby Taylor sank three 3-pointers, shot 8-10 at the line and finished with a team-high 19 points and eight rebounds for Creston. Neitzel had 16 points and six rebounds. Point guard Kainen Somers tallied nine and center Briar Evans chipped in eight.

Red Oak’s Walker matched Taylor with three triples in a 20-point night. Johnson finished with 14. No other Tiger had more than four points.

Clarinda (2-6), a 64-49 winner over Shenandoah Friday, hosts Creston in the Panthers’ next action on Jan. 4.

RED OAK (50) — Pete Walker 7 3-3 20, Tanner Johnson 6 1-2 14, Jose Perez 1 2-2 4, Jordan Nelson 1 1-2 4, Brandon Birt 1 1-1 3, Ryan Leininger 3, Dalon King 0 2-4 2. Totals — 17 11-16 50. 3-point goals — 5 (Walker 3, Nelson 1, Johnson 1). Team fouls — 25. Fouled out — Johnson, Walker.

CRESTON (64) — Colby Taylor 4 8-10 19, Luke Neitzel 6 4-6 16, Kainen Somers 3 2-2 9, Briar Evans 2 4-8 8, Trey Thomsen 2 2-2 6, Ryan Cook 1 1-1 3, Jay Wolfe 0 2-2 2, Cole Thompson 0 1-2 1. Totals — 18 24-34 64. 3-point goals — 4-8 (Taylor 3, Somers 1). FG shooting — 18-34 (52.9 percent). Rebounds — 27 (Taylor 8, Neitzel 6, Somers 5, Thomsen 3, Evans 3).  Assists — 6 (Thomsen 2, Somers 2). Steals — 11 (Taylor 4, Neitzel 4). Blocked shots — 1 (Neitzel 1). Team fouls — 17. Fouled out  — None.

Red Oak — 2 12 32 50

Creston — 19 32 44 64

JUNIOR VARSITY

Creston’s JV removed any doubt early in rolling to a 61-19 victory Friday over Red Oak.

Evan Nielsen led a balanced Panther effort with 12 points.

“The Nielsen brothers (Evan and Alex) were beasts inside the paint, which opened up our guards throughout the game,” coach Kristopher “Kritter” Hayes said. “We had a lot of energy and much of that was provided by the guys who came off the bench. There was no let-up in our defensive pressure and we rebounded very well as a team.”

Hayes said McClain Haines came off the bench and added a spark early with a steal and layup while being fouled hard.

Ten different players scored in the game for Creston (7-1).

Creston (61) — Evan Nielsen 12, Cole Thompson 10, Jay Wolfe 9, Cole Crawford 9, Alex Nielsen 6, McClain Haines 6, Nick Noecker 4, Brandon Phipps 2, Christian Groumoutis 2, Sam Hartsock 1. Rebounds — A. Nielsen 6, E. Nielsen 5, Thompson 3. Assists — Thompson 3.

Red Oak (19).

FRESHMEN

The Creston freshman boys finished up their pre-holiday schedule with a strong performance in a 39-31 defeat at Red Oak Friday.

Kyle Wynn and Nick Walsh led the scoring with 10 points each for Creston (0-6).

“The overall effort was a noticeable improvement, with the 31 points being the most the team has scored all season,” coach Larry Beaman said.

Creston’s next game is Jan. 4 at Clarinda.

Creston (31) — Kyle Wynn 10, Nick Walsh 10, Kole Lovely 4, Brandon Jones 3, Brandon Lee 3, Ryan Kucera 2.

Red Oak (39).

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