COUNCIL BLUFFS — The Creston boys basketball team couldn’t end its losing streak here on Tuesday, as the Panthers dropped a 52-41 game to Lewis Central.
That brings the losing skid to four straight games for the Panthers, now 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the Hawkeye 10 Conference. Lewis Central improved to 5-6 overall and 3-2 in the conference.
The first half of the game was low scoring, as the two teams entered halftime deadlocked at 16-16.
But, the Titans came out in the second half and found a way to get to the free throw line, shooting 15 free throws in the second half compared to Creston’s five attempts.
“They came out after halftime and they kind of jumped on us a little bit,” Creston head coach Billy Hiatt said. “They shot 15 free throws in the second half to our five, so that hurt us a little bit. We had a couple of turnovers.”
The Panthers worked their way back to within five points with 2:00 to go in the game at 42-37.
But, Creston wasn’t able to get any closer, as the Titans sank free throws down the stretch to pull away to the 52-41 final margin.
After having to work through foul trouble in the team’s past several games, Hiatt said he started Tuesday’s game in a zone defense in order to try protecting some of his players.
“We started off in a zone against them early in the game, trying to hide some guys, avoid foul trouble,” Hiatt said. “Go into halftime pretty close. There was only five fouls called the whole first half between the two teams.”
Junior Jay Wolfe got off to a good start for the Panthers, but both teams went stagnant in the second quarter.
“I don’t think anybody scored in the second quarter until 2:00 to go,” Hiatt said.
Wolfe finished the game with a game-high 22 points. Alex Nielsen added seven for the Panthers, while Tony Rew scored a team-high 17 points for the Titans. Mitch Moran pitched in 11 for Lewis Central.
“He started going early on, kind of got into rhythm a bit,” Hiatt said about Wolfe. “Was nice to see him do that again. Alex Nielsen hit the floor hard twice for us. Hurt his wrist a little bit. He’ll be all right and ready to go on Friday.”
The Panthers return to action Friday at home against Class 4A Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln.
The game will be just the second game played on the Panthers’ home court this season.
“It’ll be nice to be at home,” Hiatt said. “We’ve played one home game. We’ve been to Wells Fargo, which was a home game, but to actually be on our home floor, that’ll be nice.”
LEWIS CENTRAL (52) — Lincoln Rodenburg 6, Mitch Moran 11, Austin Simmons 2, Kyler Nixon 4, Kyle Larson 6, Mitchell Brinkman 6, Tony Rew 17.
CRESTON (41) — Jay Wolfe 22, Alex Nielsen 7, Cole Thompson 4, Cole Crawford 3, Sam Hartsock 3, Trey Benson 2. Rebounds — Wolfe 5. Assists — Wolfe 2, Thompson 2, Brandon Phipps 2.
The Creston JV team dropped to 4-3 for the season with a close 55-54 loss to Lewis Central on Tuesday.
The Panthers led 54-53 with :15 left in the game, when the Titans ran a play and knocked down a jumper from the free throw line.
Creston JV coach Michael West called timeout and set up a play for his team with :03 remaining. Sam Hartsock, who scored 22 points in the game, put up a shot from halfcourt and nearly banked it in for the win.
“Pretty close,” West said. “ A tough one to lose. They really killed us with their size, but we had a quickness advantage on them and it showed up in the second half, so that was good.”
Cooper McDermott added 16 points for the Panthers.
The Panther JV team had picked up a 60-53 win over Denison-Schleswig on Friday to improve to 4-2.
Creston (54) — Sam Hartsock 22, Cooper McDermott 16, McClain Haines 5, Jake Miller 4, Chris Foster 4, Nick Walsh 3.
L. Central (55)