Liberty Christian refused to go down without a fight on Thursday night.

Facing a hefty 22-point deficit after three quarters of lackluster basketball, the Class 1A Lions roared back, bringing the game within a single point at the Wigwam.

But Elwood had a different ending in mind.

Able to withstand Liberty Christian’s 28-point outburst in the fourth quarter, the Class 3A Panthers held on to win 62-59 during the Madison County Boys Basketball Tournament loser’s bracket semifinals.

The victory puts Elwood (3-5) in the tournament’s fifth-place game scheduled to begin at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday. The Panthers will face Central Indiana Conference rival No. 2 Frankton (9-1), who defeated Highland 68-65 in Thursday night’s second game.

The Lions (2-5) fall into the seventh-place contest where they match up with Highland (2-7) for a 2:30 p.m. tipoff on the same day.

“We just didn’t play well the first three quarters,” said Lions coach Jason Chappell, whose program has yet to log a win in the annual countywide tournament. “They chose not to come out and play hard until the fourth quarter ... too little too late.”

Through the first three frames, Elwood built a 50-31 advantage behind steady production from seniors Ryan Landrum and Larry Nutt. The Panthers’ lead grew to 30-20 at halftime.

Landrum had 23 points, while Nutt controlled the paint with a game-high 29 points.

Chris Horner led the Lions with a team-high 21 points, but the tandem of freshman Michael Horner and senior Kyle Petty steered Liberty Christian’s fourth-quarter comeback.

Horner notched eight of his 11 points in the final frame, while Petty added eight points in the final eight minutes, giving him 10 points in the loss. The Lions outscored Elwood 28-12 in the fourth quarter.

For the evening’s nightcap, Class 2A Frankton capitalized on Highland’s shortcomings on defense to get back into the win column 68-65.

The Eagles, who lost 68-41 to Class 4A Anderson during Wednesday night’s first-round battle of the undefeated, received a strong performance from senior Luke Etchison, while both teams had four players reach double-figures.

The 6-7 center scored a team-high 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field as Frankton rebound fast from a 20-12 first-quarter deficit.

The Eagles outscored the Scots 41-30 the next two frames as Highland’s leading scorer, Gary McGhee, watched his minutes dwindle after two quick fouls and a third one coming shortly into the second half.

With the 6-10 center on the bench a majority of the night, Nicholas Goins answered the call, scoring a game-high 25 points.

Goins, a 6-1 junior, shot 9-of-11 from the field and buried 2-of-3 attempts from beyond the arc.

McGhee followed with 12 points and four rebounds. Highland’s Nick Oaks had 10 points and Jesse Reynolds added 11.

The Scots’ troubles on defense were minimized by out-rebounding the Eagles 29-16, but inconsistency allowed Frankton to spread its production on offense.

Senior Vic Foster scored 11 points, while sophomore Kyle Overby and senior Austin Leisure each added 13 points.

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