MANHATTAN — The St. Mary’s-Colgan High School basketball team punched its ticket to the Kansas 2A state championship game after earning a 64-53 win over West Elk on Friday.
West Elk rallied back from a 12-point deficit at the end of the first half to pull to within one point of Colgan late in the third quarter, but the Panthers managed to hang on for the win with help from 30 points by Jeremiah Buche.
Buche got into the scoring column early and often, as he lifted the Panthers to an early 10-2 lead with four quick points in the opening minutes.
A layup and free throws by Aaron Higginbotham followed by a 3-pointer from Jake Dellasega pushed the lead to 17-9 halfway through the first quarter, before SMC expanded it to double digits at 29-16 with six consecutive points to begin the second.
The Panthers went on to take a 37-25 advantage into the locker room at halftime, but a 15-2 run by the Patriots cut their deficit to one at 41-40 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Colgan regained control of the contest with a layup by Matthew Lomshek and five consecutive points scored by Jeremiah Buche at the end of the third quarter to take a 48-42 lead into the fourth.
Buche helped seal the victory for the Panthers in the final eight minutes regulation, scoring 10 fourth-quarter points en route to the win.
In addition to his 30 points on the night, Buche tallied six rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Lomshek finished second on the team in scoring, with 14 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals.
Colgan will play either Central Plains or Salina-Sacred Heart at 6:15 p.m. on Saturday for all the marbles.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.