COLEMAN — The Zephyr Bulldogs built a 16-point fourth-quarter advantage, but had to fight off the Panther Creek Panthers — who trimmed the deficit to four down the stretch — before emerging with a 49-42 bi-district championship victory Monday night.
The Bulldogs, the second seed out of District 16-A Division II, will advance to face either Garden City or Roscoe in area round action later this week.
Kohl Weidl and Bradley Lewis tallied 13 points each to pace the Bulldogs followed by 11 from Bishop Norman, five from Seth Jesko, four from Jayden Choat and three points by Jaydon Ezra.
For Panther Creek, the third seed from District 15-A Division II, Zane Jamison poured in a game-high 15 points trailed by 11 from Colton Moore, nine from James Shorter, three from Allen Price and two points each from Nico Parra and Colton Bledsoe.
Zephyr led 13-10 after one quarter despite giving up nine of the first 11 points. The Bulldogs answered with an 11-0 spurt to gain a lead they would never relinquish.
The Bulldogs inflated their cushion to 28-18 at halftime and took a 42-30 edge into the fourth period.
With 6:50 remaining, Zephyr owned a 46-30 lead following buckets from Norman and Choat. However, the Bulldogs did not score again until 51 seconds remained in the game as Panther Creek crept to within 46-42.
The Panthers’ rally was aided by a 3-of-14 effort from the free throw line in the fourth period by Zephyr, which included misses on its first seven attempts.
But Wiedl sank one free throw and Jesko added two more in the final minute as Zephyr survived.