The Comets streaked out front of the Pana Panthers early and never looked back to take fifth place in the Vandalia Holiday Tournament yesterday, 73-56.

Cody Rincker led the Comets out top with 28 points and earned himself a spot on the all-tournament team and Cody Gallagher followed with a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) down low, as the two teamed up on the Panthers. Pana was without a starting post player Blake Berner, who dressed, but did not play because he is recovering from an automobile accident last week.

The Comets scored 27 points in the first quarter. Rincker drew first blood by driving the lane, then Gallagher scored two times from the floor to tie the game at 6-6, after Cole Waddington and Derek Sloan gave Pana a two-point lead.

Conrad Widdersheim (10 points) drove for two and got the foul, converting the three-point play. But Mike Maziarz (19 points) launched a trey and tied the game at 9-9. Andrew Scherzer hit a open two underneath and Pana was up 11-9. Jesse Williams got a put-back to tie, but Sloan swooped in for a flying bank. Jesse Brandt finished a fast break and the game was tied at 13-13 with 3:35 left in the first.

But then, the Comets got hot. Gallagher stepped under a defender at the lime and scored for the 15-13 lead and Stew-Stras never looked back as they started 14-5 run to finish the first.

Gallagher hit two free throws for his seventh and eight points of the first and Brandt finished another fast break. Maziarz made two foul shots for Pana, but Rincker had two of his own. Joe Beyers came in and hit a big three for Pana, but Rincker came right back with his three. Widdersheim rang up a trey off a Rincker pick at the buzzer and Stew-Stras was up 27-18.

Joe Beyers opened the second with a jumper, but the Comets then scored seven straight. Rincker hit a baseline turnaround, Phil Wetherell ran out for an easy fast break two and Rincker converted a three-point play.

Waddington made two free throws, but Rincker stole a ball for two and Tyler Antrim made two free throws, before Maziarz scored again. Gallagher got two inside and Maziarz answered almost a minute later. The Antrim dialed in from the arc for a 17-point lead in the first half, 43-26.

Wetherell finished fast break and Beyers hit two free throws, but Widdersheim drove the lane for two with 2.8 second sin the half for the 19-point, 47-18 lead.

Maziarz and Sloan tried to lead a comeback in the third, as Pana outscored Stew-Stras 18-12. Sloan had a pair of trey’s and Maziarz three deuces. Rincker had eight points in the third to keep double-digit lead. In the fourth, Rincker scored six more, including his third three and the Comet defense limited Pana to eleven points scattered among five players.

Both teams hit five trey’s and the free throws were close. Pana was 9-of-13 and Stew-Stras 12-of-19.

Stew-Stras returns to regular season action on Tuesday, hosting Shelbyville, while Pana is off until a week from Saturday, traveling to Hillsboro as they start a three-game road trip, followed by a week-long Litchfield tournament.

Stew-Stras 27-20-12-14—73

Pana 18-10-17-11—56

Stew-Stras stats: Rincker 28 (7-2’s, 3-3 G’s, 5/6 FT’s), 2 rebounds; Gallagher 17 (7 FG’s, 3/4 FT’s), 10 rebounds; Widdersheim 10 (3-2’s, 1-3 FG’s, 1/3 FT’s), 3 rebounds; Brandt 6 (3 FG’s), 4 rebounds; Wetherell 5 (2 FG’s, 1/2 FT’s), 1 rebound; Antrim 5 (1-3 FG, 2/2 FT’s), 2 rebounds; Williams 2 (FG) 0/2 FT’s), 8 rebounds. Team free throws 12-of-19. 3-pointers: Rincker 3, Widdersheim 1, Antrim 1.

Pana stats: Maziarz 19 (7-2’s, 1-3 FG’s, 2/2 FT’s), 4 rebounds; Sloan 13 (2-2’s, 3-3 FG’s), 4 rebounds; Beyers 12 (3-2’s, 1-3 FG’s, 3/4 FT’s), 2 rebounds; Waddington 6 (1 FG, 4/4 FT’s); Claxon 4 (2 FG’s, 0/1 FT’s), 1 rebound; Sawyer Kile 2 (FG). Team free throws 9-of-13. 3-pointers: Sloan 3, Maziarz 1, Beyers 1.

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