SOUTH WHITLEY — The Wildcat basketball team played the final five minutes only putting two points on the scoreboard Friday night, falling to Northwood (9-11) 45-39.
With a 33-30 lead to start the fourth quarter, Whitko was nearly scoreless while the Panthers tacked on 15 points in the last eight minutes to take the win.
The score doesn’t adequately display the seven lead changes and three-point margins throughout much of the game.
Whitko controlled the scoreboard until under four minutes left in the period when Northwood’s Braxton Miller knocked down a 3-pointer to take the Panther’s first lead, 12-9.
The ’Cats couldn’t get control of the lead until junior Stephen Bennett came in the game facing a 19-18 deficit.
Whitko held Northwood to five points in the second stanza.Irwin scored with a minute left in the half to get the Wildcats their biggest lead of the game, 24-19.
The Panthers retaliated in the second half, outscoring Whitko 26-15.
Irwin scored all nine of the ’Cats third-quarter points, while Northwood tacked on 11 of its own.
With 3:20 left in the third period, the Panthers took the lead — and never looked back. The score was tied at 37 with five minutes left in the game.
Whitko went on a four-minute drought before junior Alex Stoddard knocked down the Wildcats’ final points of the game with 30 seconds to go.
The Wildcats celebrated five seniors, Irwin, Kolton Krull, Jordan Sims, Colin Nicodemus and Lucky Winters, who has been out much of the season for an injury.
Whitko falls to 11-9 going into the state tournament next week. The Wildcats face Eastbrook in the first round Tuesday. Tip-off time is slated for 6 p.m.