HOLDEN — Knob Noster coach Mike Baker has seen a lot of high school basketball. Spanning stops at Lesterville, Lincoln, Windor, Marshall and Sherwood, the Panthers head man had accumulated 387 wins coming into his first year leading the Knob Noster program.
On Thursday, Feb. 6, Baker reached the 400-win milestone as the Panthers came back from a 14-point halftime deficit against Holden for a 56-44 win.
“On down the road, when I am coaching this game, I’ll look back on this and think about the hard fought win we got for four hundred and it’s kind of the story of my career,” Baker said. “I’ve always fought and clawed for everything I’ve gotten and it’s a good way to win my 400th.”
The celebration looked like it would be delayed a game as Holden nearly played spoiler to the 400 win milestone.
The Eagles pounced on the Panthers 12-5 in the opening frame led by six points from Jayden Brown. Holden took advantage of a handful of Knob Noster turnovers to stake out the early lead.
“A very sloppy first half,” Baker said. “I thought Holden came out and played lights out and took us away from some of our things.”
The Eagles extended their lead in the second quarter, powered by a pair of 3-pointers by Jackson Tevis, who finished with 11 points, Holden went into halftime leading 29-15.
Knob Noster opened the second half with a 9-0 run before Tevis sank his third three of the night to stop the bleeding.
“Their pressure got to us a bit,” Holden coach Nathan Martin said. “We threw some bad passes and they got some easy buckets that started it.”
The Panthers erased all but two points of the deficit in the third quarter, trailing 37-35 going into the fourth.
Another Knob Noster run started the final frame, this time 10-0, putting the Panthers in full control up 41-31 at the midway point of the quarter.
“We play, then we go on these spells where we don’t score for six minutes, seven minutes,” Martin said. “In this one, I think we scored 15 in the second half. That’s what’s been killing us in our losses.”
Brown led the Eagles with 18 points.
Knob Noster’s Iverson Sirom scored 15 of his team-high 18 points in the second half.
“Iverson did a great job and (Anthony) Lopez did a good job of getting to the rim,” Baker said. “We were settling too much for 3-point shots in the first half.”
Lopez finished with 10 points.
Kellen Foster entered Thursday’s game needing 25 points to reach 1,000 points in his career. Holden held Foster to 13 points, all during the second-half comeback.
The senior broke through the following night, Friday, Feb. 7, in a 52-47 overtime win over Higginsville, driving down the baseline for a layup to join the century points club.
Knob Noster (14-5) will take on Richmond (18-3) on Tuesday, Feb. 11. The Spartans won the first meeting between the two teams 67-45.
Holden will take part in the Midway Classic beginning on Monday, Feb. 10.