CARROLL — Class 2A eighth-ranked Carroll Kuemper Catholic thwarted Creston’s comeback attempt in the third quarter, going on a 10-0 run to close the third quarter on its way to a 64-45 win here Friday.
The Knights had taken a 37-13 lead into halftime, as Creston went scoreless for the final 5:28 of the first half, allowing the Knights to go on a 14-0 run to end the half.
But, the Panthers started the third quarter on a 16-4 run, closing the Kuemper lead to 41-29.
“We kind of pressured them, got back in the game a little bit,” Creston head coach Billy Hiatt said about the start of the third quarter. “I think we got back to 12 and I know he called a timeout to regroup a little bit. They’re a really good team.”
Kuemper came out of the timeout and finished the third quarter on a 10-0 run to make the deficit 22 points heading into the final quarter.
The Panthers struggled to score in the first half as season leading scorer Jay Wolfe picked up two early fouls and sat on the bench for much of the first half.
Kuemper held a 21-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. Hiatt brought Wolfe back into the game in the second quarter in an attempt to spark the Creston offense, but Wolfe picked up a third foul before halftime.
“They went inside early on us with the two big kids they had, really gave us some fits,” Hiatt said. “We had trouble scoring early on. We got into some foul trouble and missed a couple shots, missed some layups. Can’t do that against a good team.”
Cole Neary scored 18 points to lead the Knights, while Sam Brincks scored 13 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.
Wolfe, who entered the game as the sixth-highest scorer in Class 3A and the leading scorer in the Hawkeye 10 Conference at 22.0 points per game, was held to just four points in the loss. Junior Alex Nielsen led Creston with 10 points after suffering an ankle injury in Tuesday’s loss to Harlan.
“He battled in there,” Hiatt said about Nielsen. “He kept fighting. He attacked the boards pretty good. We worked on that this week, so I was happy to see that with him.”
Hiatt said the Panthers will use the holiday break to rest up and tweak a few things, gearing up for the second half of the season.
“Good thing is we played a lot of road games, so we’ll get some home games to get us going,” he said. “I felt like we were a little tired there. We played six games in 14 days. That’s hard to do with a lot of them on the road like that.”
Creston now sits at 4-2 overall, while Kuemper improved to 4-1 overall. The game did not count in the conference standings, so both teams remain undefeated in Hawkeye 10 Conference play.
The Panthers return to action Jan. 3 in a varsity doubleheader at Denison-Schleswig.
KUEMPER (64) — Cole Neary 18, Sam Brincks 13, Chase Rupiper 10, Alex Drees 5, Alex Gunnerson 5, Josh Tigges 4, Josh Irlbeck 4, Ben Hicks 3, Blake Hinners 2. Rebounds — Brincks 17, Neary 10.
CRESTON (45) — Alex Nielsen 10, Brandon Phipps 5, Cole Crawford 5, McClain Haines 5, Christian Groumoutis 5, Jay Wolfe 4, Trey Benson 4, Jon Birchard 3, Cole Thompson 2, Sam Hartsock 2. Rebounds — Nielsen 4, Wolfe 3, Groumoutis 2. Steals — Thompson 3.
Kuemper — 21 37 51 64
Creston — 8 13 29 45