The Monroe City boys basketball team fell to No. 6 Clark County 73-70 in overtime during a home Clarence Cannon Conference game on Friday.
Monroe City coach Brock Edris was pleased with the defense his Panthers played against the Clark County duo of Chandler Bevans and Zeb Riney on Friday night.
But it was a third Indian senior who did the most damage and sent the Panthers to their second loss of the season.
Cole Kirchner poured in a career-best 32 points to lead the Indians to a 73-70 overtime win over Monroe City.
“We had to focus on Chandler (Bevans) and Zeb (Riney), and then Cole had a heck of a game for them,” the Panthers coach stated. “He did a nice job of screening for those two guys, and then we played off of him a little too much and he had a career night. I am sure with the way he was shooting it felt like he was shooting into the ocean tonight.”
Kirchner caught fire in the third period as he scored 14 of his game-high total in the first eight minutes after halftime.
Kirchner started the third with a pair of steals and finished with layups to cut into the Panthers 33-27 halftime lead.
After Blake Hays knocked down a runner in the lane to put the Panthers ahead 42-36, Kirchner found his stroke from the outside.
The Indians senior scored 10 straight points to spark a 14-2 spurt over the final 4 minutes, 26 seconds of the third.
“Sometimes he is the forgotten one,” Clark County coach Adam Rung said of Kirchner. “We have Zeb and Chandler, they are so good, and sometimes when you give them so much attention Cole can get going, and we will just ride him. He had a great night the other night against Palmyra and he got us going again tonight.”
Kirchner drained his sixth 3-pointer of the game to start the fourth quarter scoring as the Indians extended their lead to 53-44.
A drive by Riney gave the Indians a 59-51 lead with 4:12 left in regulation.
Then the Panthers started to chip away.
A corner three from Blake Hays pulled the Panthers to within 63-60 with 1:33 left in the fourth.
After Riney sank a pair of free throws, Zach Osborn converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 16 seconds left to give the Panthers a final shot.
Clark County turned the ball over with nine seconds left.
C.E. Talton, who scored 26 points to pace the Panthers, drove the lane. When the Indians defense collapsed, he dished to a wide open Dalton McAfee for the game-tying bucket with four seconds left.
Clark County had one final shot to win in regulation, but could not convert.
In overtime, Monroe City missed four free throws and a couple buckets from point-blank range.
Brandon Kracht broke a 69-all tie with a corner three with 21 seconds left. It was the 10th made three-pointer of the game for the Indians.
Monroe City had one final chance to force a second overtime, but a 3-point attempt from the corner bounced off the iron.
“If we hit one more free throw or make one of those gimmes, maybe it’s a different outcome,” Edris said. “You make one of those, and instead of playing for the three to tie, you can attack the rim. But these kind of games are what make you better. I was proud of the way our guys battled all game. Hopefully we can get better from this and earn a chance to face these guys again down the road. They are state ranked (Class 3 No. 6) for a reason.”
Rung lauded the performance of not only his team but also the Panthers.
“This was just a great basketball game,” the Indians coach said. “I can’t say enough about the way Brock had his team compete tonight. We took a lot of punches from Monroe City, but our guys were resilient and kept punching back.”
Osborn (16) and Hays (10) combined for 26 points in the loss.