Panthers drop another close one

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An overtime loss early in the season really motivates a basketball team to get better. Two overtime losses early in the season really motivates the team.

Unfortunately for Ray-Pec, the boys basketball team (5-5) lost a second overtime game in which they fell four points short of their opponent Friday night in Peculiar. A hot start gave the Panthers a good foundation, but missed opportunities and especially untimely turnovers kept the home team from closing out a victory over Rockhurst.

“You’ve got to put good teams down when you have the opportunity. We just couldn’t do that,” Ray-Pec head coach Scott Jermain would say after the game.

Raymore-Peculiar had just come off an exciting three-point win in Kearney last Tuesday night, defeating the Bulldogs 42-39. Having won three of their last four games, it could be assumed that the Panthers’ confidence had been growing coming into this game. A full house on their home court seemed to only increase their swagger, helping them piece together a great first quarter.

Coming out of the gate, Ray-Pec shot very well. Despite four missed free throws, the Panthers were able to get good looks en route to an early lead.

Sophomore James Sappington scored the first points for Raymore-Peculiar, drilling a 15-foot jumper a little over a minute into the game. A three-pointer by senior Jason Wilson later put the home team ahead 7-4.

One thing that was abundantly clear at the start of the game was that senior Mario Holman was locked in. After making an acrobatic layup, Holman nailed a two-point jump shot at the end of the quarter, scoring his team’s last four points and helping them gain a 13-9 advantage.

Senior Mario Holman stepped up and took charge Friday night, but his 20 points weren't enough to earn Ray-Pec a victory over Rockhurst.

Senior Mario Holman stepped up and took charge Friday night, but his 20 points weren’t enough to earn Ray-Pec a victory over Rockhurst.

In the second quarter, Holman picked up right where he left off, scoring the first five points for Ray-Pec. Junior Ben Harris stepped up as well, cashing in on two free throws with 5:45 left in the quarter, giving the Panthers an unprecedented 20-9 lead.

The Hawklets would start to claw back. Rockhurst started a 13-2 run featuring two three-pointers, two and-one layups, and some free throws. As the visitors were getting points from all around the court, Raymore-Peculiar struggled to get things done offensively. It was then that Holman picked his team up once again — and it still wouldn’t be the last time in this game.

1:30 remained on the scoreboard as the Panthers held on to a 24-22 lead. Holman took the ball to the basket, making a layup while being fouled. After a made free throw and two Harris points from the charity stripe, Ray-Pec was able to take a 29-22 lead into the locker rooms.

“Our second quarter was pretty big mistake-wise. We made some bad shots, some bad decisions, a couple turnovers,” said Coach Jermain.

“We rebounded from that and picked ourselves up off the floor.”

Sophomore Ben Harris gets fouled on a layup, cashing in on both the shot and the free throw.

Sophomore Ben Harris gets fouled on a layup, cashing in on both the shot and the free throw.

Coming out in the second half, a Rockhurst two-pointer put the visitors within five points, but Ray-Pec’s Harris completed a three-point play to put the Panther lead at eight.

Then one of a few pivotal moments happened in the game. The Hawklets went on a 7-0 tear, taking advantage of turnovers and missed field goals by the Panthers.

“When you’re playing good teams you cannot turn the basketball over,” Coach Jermain said.

“Especially turning it over in situations that are avoidable. We had two pretty crucial turnovers back-to-back…you can’t give easy possessions away.”

After a Raymore-Peculiar timeout, sophomore Nick Janssen hit a shot from behind the arc for the home team, extending their lead to four. From there, the Panthers’ Wilson scored four points on two good looks down low, the second layup set up beautifully by Holman.

Ray-Pec led 43-40 after three quarters.

The second pivotal moment in the game came just minutes into the fourth quarter. After a pair of two-point field goals were made by the Panthers’ Holman and Jason Chambers, Ben Harris took a charge and put his team in great position to finish the game by extending their 47-42 lead.

As Raymore-Peculiar looked to inbound, a turnover was converted into points for the visitors. And then it happened again. And again. Before the Panthers were able to get the ball past half court again, the Hawklets scored five straight points, tying the game at 47.

Sophomore James Sappington stopped the streak by working hard down low and getting an easy bucket for Ray-Pec.

Senior Mario Holman was clutch for his team -- making two game-tying three pointers late in the game Friday night.

Senior Mario Holman was clutch for his team — making two game-tying three pointers late in the game Friday night.

Later on, after productive possessions by Rockhurst and missed opportunities by Ray-Pec, the Panthers found themselves trailing 54-51 with 40 seconds to play. To the large crowd’s pleasure, Mario Holman drained a three-pointer to tie the game up and eventually send it into overtime.

With just under a minute to play in overtime, Holman found himself in the same spot again, making nearly the exact same shot, tying the game at 59.

Unfortunately, missed free throws and layups kept the Panthers at bay and allowed Rockhurst to excel in the extra period. Ray-Pec went three-for-six from the line in OT while the Hawklets shot five-for-eight. As time expired, the visitors turned their simple lead into a comeback victory, winning the game 64-60.

“Nobody likes to lose, but we’ve got to make sure that we learn,” head coach Scott Jermain said.

“[Ray-Pec players] are making progress, but we can’t be happy with making progress. We’ve got to play 32 minutes.”

Holman finished with 20 points in the contest and Ben Harris scored 13.

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