YORK - The Fillmore Central Panther boys led at the first break, were still tied at halftime, but couldn’t hold off Fairbury in C1-5 Subdistrict hoops Monday night in York.
Coach Richard Evans’ Panthers started fast and had the Jeffs off balance. A three from Kurt Karcher, two free throws from Danny Loseke and then a Loseke offensive rebound bucket had FC up 11-3 with 2:23 to go in the first. Fairbury ran off four unanswered and the period ended 11-7.
The Jeffs began to find their pace in the second half of period number two after forging at 15-all tie with just over 4:00 to go until halftime.
Despite what felt like a momentum swing the Panthers got enough clutch baskets, key rebounds and defensive stops to come back from 27-23 down with a 4-0 run of their own that made the score 27-all at intermission.
The Jeffs started fast after halftime and looked like they might put the game away by converting turnovers into transition baskets, but still the Panthers hung tough. After trailing by 11 at 50-39 with 6:30 to play in the fourth, FC junior guard Dillon Graham nearly shot his team to victory with three fourth-period 3-pointers. Graham’s last trey came with just under a minute to play and brought the Panthers within two, 62-60, and had the Jeffs looking shell-shocked.
Enter Fairbury senior Dalton Griffin to shoot 6-for-6 at the line in the final period to keep the furiously rallying Panthers at arm’s length. In all Fairbury was 13-17 in the final period and 22-33 overall.
Griffin and Alec Cromer led all scorers with 19 apiece for Fairbury. Kitrik Ahl added 15. The Panthers were led by 18 from Graham and 16 from Loseke, who was an impressive 10-12 at the free throw line. Karcher cracked double figures with 10.
Fillmore Central coach Richard Evans was impressed with his team’s performance, but lamented that it took the whole season to see the Panthers play at that level.
“We needed to play that way at the beginning of the year,” he said. “We don’t have any superstars,” he added. “We have to play as a team. We finally put it together at the end of the year. If we’d have done it sooner we’d have been used to it by now.”
Evans and his Panthers end their season at 3-19, but look to a bright future with nearly all underclassmen on this year’s squad. The Jeffs improved to 8-14 and will meet the Milford Eagles, seeded No. 1 in C1-5, in tonight’s first semifinal at 6 p.m. Centennial and Wilber-Clatonia are in the other semifinal at 7:45.
Fillmore Central (3-19) ................ 11 16 10 25 - 62
Fairbury (8-14) ............ 7 20 15 25 - 67
Fillmore Central (62) - D. Graham 7 (3) 1-2 18, K. Karcher 4 (2) 0-0 10, D. Loseke 3 10-12 16, H. Kleinschmidt 1 0-0 2, T. Birky 1 0-0 2, T. Swartz 2 2-2 6, L. Hopken 3 (1) 1-2 8. Totals - 21 (6) 14-18 62.
Fairbury (67) - T. Specht 2 1-4 5, C. Amundson 2 0-0 4, T. Smith 1 3-6 5, K. Ahl 5 (1) 4-5 15, D. Griffin 6 7-87 19, A. Cromer 6 7-10 19. Totals - 22 (1) 22-33.