MONTICELLO — Westen’s boys basketball team was a gear slower than Twin Lakes in the first quarter Monday night. And again in the second quarter.
The Panther machine was idling to start the second half and allowed Twin Lakes to blow past for the first eight points after halftime to open up a 38-17 lead.
Finally, after about 20 game minutes, and after trailing by 21 points on a couple occasions, the Panthers found a competitive gear and turned the Class 3A Twin Lakes Sectional final into a thrilling race to the finish.
Western closed the gap to as few as two points in the final three minutes before Twin Lakes regrouped and finished off a 65-57 TL victory.
Asked if he was having flashbacks of Western’s fightback to win the Frankfort Sectional 10 years ago, veteran Twin Lakes coach Kent Adams said “absolutely, absolutely.” His team led 46-30 heading into the fourth quarter Monday night.
“I thought up 16 with whatever was left, we should be able to withstand whatever they’re able to throw at us and they just kept making 3s and scoring and we made some silly turnovers and missed a lot of free throws,” Adams said.
Western got triples from Evan Warden and Austin Weaver to close the third quarter and trim the margin to 16. Twin Lakes got good ball movement and an easy hoop from Cody DeBoy to start the fourth quarter, then the Panthers hit top gear and the fireworks started.
Western reeled off an 11-0 run to trim the lead to 48-41. All 11 points came from Warden as the senior guard elevated Western on sheer will. Twin Lakes found the net again but Western answered with triples from Mo Townsend and Warden to keep within seven points.
Then things got even wilder. With TL clinging to a 55-49 lead, Indian guard Tanner Pritts was whistled for a technical after an Indian foul, and Pritts fouled out as a result. Western’s Zach Shahan hit one free throw and Warden hit two to trim the lead to 55-52 with 2:42 left.