Don Kuhnen, AP Sports
The EP boys varsity basketball team hosted Bureau Valley Friday night in Prophetstown and came from behind in the fourth quarter to win 53-41. The Storm entered the contest fresh off a 5-0 record taking the title in the Wethersfield tourney.
EP used the 3-point shot to get things rolling as Conner Sibley’s pair of them and Kolby Franks’ swisher got the Panthers a quick 9-3 lead. Bureau Valley was able to quiet the loud Panther student section later in the first quarter and led 15-14 after one.
Both defenses played aggressively in the second 8 minutes and a quick 6 points by the Storm near the end of the half gave them a 26-19 halftime advantage. A low scoring third quarter kept things relatively close and the Storm led 32-24 with 1:27 left in the third when Austin Cole completed a three point play to bring the home crowd to life. “I was really proud of our guys executing and I thought our press did a good job of speeding them up offensively which got them to take quick shots and allowed us to run and get in transition where we excel,” said coach Ryan Winckler.
The Panther comeback continued into the fourth quarter aa a Franks’ steal and layup put EP up 33-32 for their first lead since early in the contest. A Franks’ 3-point conversion made it 39-36 with 3:35 left.
A Noah Wiseley rebound basket and another basket off a nice feed from Braxton Froeliger helped put the game out of reach.
The Panthers were a perfect 8/8 from the free throw line down the stretch to calm the Storm.
Franks led the Panthers in scoring with 17 points of which 11 came in the final 8 minutes. Sibley added 13 and Wiseley 8 to lead EP. Johnson had 8 to lead the Storm.
Winckler said the 3-2 Panthers are still not at full strength with Mason Misfeldt still sidelined with a football injury and Jack Minssen coming off an appendectomy. The Panthers put 9 players on the floor during the contest with Winckler saying he wants to develop depth for the long season.
The Panthers host another conference game Friday the 10th when Orion comes to Prophetstown. That will be their final game until the Warkins Classic the week after Christmas.