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Pana held a halftime lead, but it was tournament MVP Paul Knapp’s 26 points that helped lead Flora last Thursday to a 75-69 win in the championship game of the Vandalia Holiday Tournament.
The Wolves (15-1) also got a double-double from Ethan Leib, with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while winning their eighth overall VHT title and second in three seasons. Knapp became the first player in tournament history to be named all-tournament four times.
Flora’s eight titles are tied with Wesclin for the most all-time.
Neither team led by more than four points in the first half, but Flora took the lead for good after getting back-to-back second-chance layups from all-tournament selection Nick Painter and Leib with 6:17 left in the third period.
Starting with those two baskets, the Wolves used a 15-3 run in just four minute to take a 43-35 lead.
The Panthers (11-1), however, continued to fight to the finish and trailed by just five points after Allen Kile made a second-chance 3-pointer with 55 seconds left in the game, and Mitchell Beyers made a pair of free throws seven seconds later after a Flora turnover to make the score, 70-67.
Knapp would make two free throws with 47 seconds left in the game, and Pana’s Jared McMillen answered back with a layup seven seconds later.
Painter made a free throw with 31.7 seconds left, but after Beyers missed a 3-pointer 14 seconds later, the Panthers would not get another shot.
McMillen and Beyers were both named to the all-tournament team, and McMillen statistically had the best tournament, with 19.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
For Flora, Painter had 17.8 points and 8 rebounds per game, while Knapp had 19.2 and 4.4. Painter also scored his 1,000th career point during the tournament.
Thursday, Dec. 29
Flora points: Knapp, 26; Leib, 17; Painter, 17; Taylor, 11; Burgess, 4.
Flora rebounds: Leib, 11; Painter, 7; Knapp, 6; Taylor, 3; Burgess, 1; Moore, 1.
Pana points: McMillen, 22; Beyers, 20; Kile, 14; Claxon, 6; Hrabak, 3; Epley, 2; Hester, 2.
Pana rebounds: McMillen, 8; Claxon, 6; Hester, 3; Hrabak, 3; Beyers, 2.