The Prairie Home boys basketball team went in as the surprise of the 59th annual Keytesville Tournament with a record of 11-4 overall.
As the No. 2 seed behind only top-seeded Southwest, the Panthers looked to have a clear path to the championship game with seventh-seeded Bevier in the opening round and No. 3 Keytesville in the semis. However after beating Bevier by 11, 67-56, Prairie Home struggled offensively in the next round against Keytesville by a score of 66-31. Then, in the third place game on Saturday, the Panthers went cold to start the third quarter against Brunswick and played catch up for the rest of the game while suffering a 55-49 loss.
As for the game against Keytesville on Friday, Prairie Home coach Mark McLaughlin said this was a tough, hard game for the team. “Keytesville shot the ball lights out to go out to a 12-2 start and played great defense by taking away driving and passing lanes and we did not shoot the ball well at all,” McLaughlin said. “It was a disappointing outcome for us.”
Of course it didn’t help that Prairie Home dug itself a huge hole while trailing Keytesville 16-6 after one and 37-13 at the break. The Tigers also held a 23-5 advantage in the third quarter to extend the lead to 60-18. Meanwhile, in the final period down by 42, the Panthers had their best quarter of the ballgame by outscoring Keytesville 16-6.
Garrett Calvert led three players in double figures for Keytesville with 19 points. Austin McKinstry chipped in 17 while Evan Craig had 15.
For Prairie Home, Blaine Petsel, Kassen Lock and Clayton Pethan each had six points while Gabe Turner, Oliver Lock and Austin Small added three points each and Blake Petsel and Luke Stewart with two points apiece.
In the game against Brunswick, the Panthers opened the game with a 10-2 lead at the end of one but was outscored 20-15 in the second quarter. But even then Prairie Home led Brunswick 25-22. However, in the third quarter, Brunswick came out and outscored the Panthers 19-5 to go up 41-30. Meanwhile, in the final period, Prairie Home rallied back with a 19-14 advantage to cut the lead to six.
McLaughlin said the boys played a really good first half. “We had to tweak defensive approach three or four times in the early going to accommodate foul issues,” McLaughlin said. “We started out with a 8-0 run in the second half and then went stone cold and they went on a 19-0 run to end the third. The guys battled back really tough in the fourth by cutting the lead to six. Ty Stidham had two big threes while Blake Petsel and Blaine Petsel each had one. Kassen Lock had five points and Luke Stewart two. I give the guys a lot of credit for fighting back, playing tough defense in the fourth. We just had some matchups we struggled with.
“The thing about our team and the way we defend I never know going into the game which one of our defensive approaches-man, zone or combination defense are going to be what get us over the top. Most of the time this year we’ve guessed right, however, in this game, we just went cold for too long a period of time to fight back all the way. The kids will be fine. Two tough games coming up with Sturgeon at home and Salisbury on the road before finishing the regular season with four games in our conference and into the district.”
Kassen Lock had 14 points, six rebounds, two steals and one assist in the game for Prairie Home, who dropped to 12-6 on the season. Luke Stewart chipped in 10 points, two rebounds and one steal while Ty Stidham added eight points, eight rebounds and one steal, Clayton Pethan seven points, eight rebounds and two assists, Blaine Petsel six points and Blake Petsel four points, two steals and one rebound.
For Brunswick, Garland Theus had 17 points and Michael Watts with 14.