Panthers nipped by Loyola in semifinals of Bethany tourney

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

BLOOMINGTON &045; While not completely satisfied, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva boys’ basketball coach Matt Eppen was encouraged.

Eppen’s Panthers made marked progress against top-10 rated Mankato Loyola, falling 77-66 to the Crusaders in the semifinals of the Bethany Invitational Monday.

&uot;We played a pretty good ballgame and hung in quite well,&uot; said Eppen. &uot;We are not satisfied with being close but we are happy with the improvement we are making. We did an excellent job attacking the basket, and shooting free throws.&uot;

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Zak Tracy had a big game with 25 points, four rebounds and four assists. He made nine of 10 free-throw tries.

Other NRHEG leaders: Bjorn Peterson 19 points, five rebounds; Jacey Reese 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists; Matt Harrington eight points.

The Panthers made 14 of 18 free throws and 24 of 61 field goals for the game, compared to 19 of 23 and 26 of 59 for Loyola. The Panthers were outrebounded 33-32 and had 16 turnovers to the Crusaders’ 15.

Loyola led 14-9, 33-27 and 53-44 at the breaks.