The Prairie Home boys basketball team can now lay claim as CCAA champions after knocking off the Jamestown Eagles Thursday night in Prairie Home 57-53.
The Panthers, who closed out the regular season at 15-9 overall and 4-0 in the conference, will now go into the district tournament next week in Pilot Grove with a little momentum as the No. 2 seed.  The Eagles, the No. 3 seed in the district, won the first meeting against Prairie Home just last week in Jamestown 50-45.
Prairie Home boys basketball coach Mark McLaughlin said with this win the Panthers are conference champs for the first time since the 2015-16 season.
“I thought the boys played a tremendous defensive game and ran a transition game with great efficiency,” McLaughlin said. “We also went 11 of 19 from the free throw line. Players of the game were Luke Stewart, whose defense on Christian Snyder was pivotal in this game, and both Kassen Lock and Clayton Pethan with 23 and 15 points, respectively. Kassen hit nine fourth quarter points, and Clayton Pethan had six points, including the last two free throws that made it a four point game with 23 seconds to play.  I give both Blake and Blaine Petsel credit as well for their defensive help, and for creating maximum disruption on the inside.”
McLaughlin said this win also moves the kids closer to the product goals they had for the season, and going into districts, it’s a major shot in the arm. He said the process has always been to practice hard, game plan studiously, and then adjust in games nimbly. The kids did a great job of this, he said.
“It was a “players win” and we’re all very proud of them,” McLaughlin said.
This game also had plenty of highs and lows. Unfortunately for the Panthers, Jamestown won the first quarter with a great game plan by getting the ball inside to 6-5 junior Christian Snyder. Although the Eagles slowed Snyder after a strong start, they weren’t counting on sophomore Cole Higgins to hit two threes or finish the first quarter with eight of the team’s 17 points.
In the second quarter, the Panthers began to find their way to the basket with a little more regularity. What was a eight point deficit after one (17-9) was cut to two as Prairie Home came out and reeled off six straight to make it 17-15 with 6:27 left in the half.
The Panthers also clamped down on Jamestown defensively in the second quarter by outscoring the Eagles 24-9 to lead by a score of 33-26 at the break.
With two ties and four lead changes alone in the second quarter, Prairie Home also led by as much as nine (33-24) after reeling off 11 straight during a two minute stretch.
However after two free throws by Clark Rohrbach to closeout the first half,  Jamestown came back and matched Prairie Home with seven points in a low scoring quarter in the third to make it 40-33.
Of course the seven point deficit was all wiped away in the first-three minutes of the final period as Jamestown came back and reeled off six straight to tie the game at 42-all with 5:11 left. From there it was a back and forth ballgame, with the Panthers leading by as much as six at 52-46 with 3:09 left only to have Jamestown rally back to tie the game again at 52-all with 1:39 remaining.
However after a Prairie Home turnover and a free throw by Rohrbach to make it 53-52 with 1:01 left, Pethan came back and buried two big free throws with 35 seconds remaining to put the Panthers up by one at 54-53.  The Eagles missed on a open shot after that as Prairie Home got the rebound and then was fouled on a three point play by Kassen Lock on the other end of the floor with 2.9 seconds remaining to extend the lead to 57-53.
The Eagles never got any closer in the ballgame as Prairie Home held on in the final seconds for the victory.
Lock finished the game with 23 points to lead all scorers for Prairie Home. Lock also had three rebounds, two steals and one assist while Pethan added 15 points, seven rebounds, three steals and one assist, Blaine Petsel 10 points, two rebounds, two steals and two assists, Luke Stewart six points, nine rebounds and one steal, Colton Searles two points, two rebounds and one steal, Blake Petsel one point, two assists and one steal and Gabe Turner with one rebound and one steal.
For Jamestown, Clark Rohrbach had 17, Cole Higgins 15 and Christian Snyder with 12.