PONCA — The first time Laurel-Concord-Coleridge trailed by more than a couple possessions at defending Class C-2 champion Ponca, the Bears rallied to take a one-point lead at halftime.

The Indians made sure there was no repeat of that in the final minutes.

Brandon Kneifl scored a team-best 23 points, including 10 in a three-minute span of the third quarter, and he got steals on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to kick-start a game-ending 10-2 run as preseason Class C No. 3 Ponca wore down No. 5 LCC 70-56 in a battle of undefeated Lewis & Clark Conference boys basketball teams Tuesday night.

“We talked about how this was going to be a four-quarter basketball game,” Ponca coach Adam Poulosky said. “They're a very talented team. They were going to make runs and hit shots.”

The biggest stretch of the game came with less than four minutes left.

LCC junior Noah Schutte, who had game-highs of 30 points and 10 rebounds, turned in a conventional 3-point play with 3:35 left, and then he scored again off a steal just 34 seconds later to put the Bears within 60-54 after Ponca had led by as many as 13.

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Freshman Evan Haisch grabbed a loose ball for a steal on the next possession, but a missed layup changed the momentum.

Carter Kingsbury, who had two points in the first three quarters combined, came through with a driving layup off a Kneifl steal with 2:06 left. Evan Anderson benefited from another Kneifl steal with a short jumper at the 1:42 mark, and Kingsbury hit six-straight free throws in a span of 25 seconds to close out the victory.

Ponca enjoyed an offensively balanced night. In addition to Kneifl's 23, Anderson finished with 15, McGill 13 and Kingsbury 10 despite being the focal point of LCC's box-and-one defense. The Indians finished 26 of 49 (53.1 percent) from the field, including 8 of 14 from 3-point range.

For LCC, it was a stark contrast offensively from its 5-0 start to the season. The Bears averaged 82.8 points in five games, and exceeded 82 four times with the lone outlier a 69-23 victory over Emerson-Hubbard last Friday. Coming in, the Bears' closest game was a 21-point win over Crofton.

“Ponca's a great team, and they held us up. No matter how much we talk about it, it's always a little bit of a shock for our kids,” LCC coach Todd Erwin said. “They play great man defense.”

LCC went 21 of 48 (43.8 percent) from the field, but that was bolstered by Schutte hitting 12 of 17 shots. Ty Erwin added 10 points, all in the second half.

The first time Ponca got a sizable advantage — a 19-11 lead after a Gage McGill layup off an inbounds play with 5:54 left in the first half — LCC didn't go down.

Schutte got a 3-point play to cut the gap to 22-18, then Ty Erwin tallied consecutive assists, first to Cael Hartung down low, then found Izac Reifenrath for a tying 3. Kingsbury gave Ponca the lead with 40 seconds left just inside the arc, but Schutte found Erwin for a 3-pointer in front of the Indians' band with 20 seconds remaining for a 26-25 halftime lead.

LCC 8 18 14 16 — 56

Ponca 10 15 26 19 — 70

LAUREL-CONCORD-COLERIDGE (5-1): Cael Hartung 2-3 0-2 4; Izac Reifenrath 2-12 0-0 5; Noah Schutte 12-17 5-6 30; Evan Haisch 2-6 0-0 5; Ty Erwin 2-9 5-5 10; Deagan Puppe 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 21-48 10-13 56.

PONCA (3-0): Gage McGill 6-10 1-3 13; Brandon Kneifl 8-11 3-4 23; Paul Masin 1-1 0-0 3; Carter Kingsbury 2-10 6-6 10; Jayde Reid 2-6 0-0 4; Evan Anderson 6-9 0-0 15; Cole Richards 1-2 0-1 2. Totals: 26-49 10-14 70.

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