Ottumwa -- Indian Hills didn't take the lead for good until about six minutes into the second half, then held off a late comeback bid by visiting Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and the Warriors pulled out an 88-80 victory at the Hellyer Center on Saturday night, their 39th straight homecourt win.
IHCC, which trailed at haltime in only four of 35 games last year, found themselves down heading into the lockerroom for the second time in five contests early this season (and they've led by a single point in two more games). Kyle Lukasiewicz scored on a layup just before the buzzer to lift the Golden Norsemen to a 34-33 lead at intermission. The Warriors opened up a 22-12 first-half lead on a basket by Tajim Smith, but NEO's Ravel Moody dropped in two free throws at the 5:54 mark to cap a 16-5 run and put the Norsemen ahead, 28-27. The teams exchanged one-point leads after that until the halftime break.
The Warriors' Nick Wagner, who had hit the first bucket of the game in his first start and didn't score again during the opening period, came out on fire to begin the second half. Wagner drained three straight 3-pointers to shoot IHCC into a brief lead. But a three-point play by Reaudale Williams and two foul shots from Moody allowed NEO to go up by three.
With Indian Hills trailing 48-46, Billy Thomas split a pair of free throws and Smith made two to put the Warriors ahead 49-48.
Lance Singh then nailed back-to-back threes and Torrey Patton, who topped IHCC with 16 points, added a three-point play to boost the home team into a 58-50 advantage. The lead eventually grew to 80-66 with triples by Thomas and Wagner and consecutive hoops from Anthony Bratton helping grow the margin.
Moody did his best to give the Norsemen some hope, scoring their final 12 points and, at one point, cutting the IHCC lead to 80-77 with 2:19 to play.
The Warriors, who didn't make a field goal in the final 4:30, cemented the win with eight free throws over the final 2:02. The biggest foul shots came from Bratton, who calmly dropped in two after the lead had been reduced to three points. Thomas had three free throws after that as Indian Hills held on for their 4th win in five games.
Moody led NEO (5-3) with a game-high 20 points. and Lukasiewicz added 14.
Bratton and Wagner scored 14 and Thomas had 13 for IHCC, season highs for all three.
The Warriors made a dozen 3-pointers, seven in a second half in which they outscored NEO, 55-46.
Indian Hills plays its third straight home game on Tuesday night at 7:00 against Ellsworth. The Panthers (2-5) return to the Hellyer Center after playing twice there over the weekend, losing to NEO by seven on Friday and Howard College by 19 Saturday.
INDIAN HILLS 88, NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA A&M 80
INDIAN HILLS (4-1)
Devontae Lane 2 4-4 8, Lance Singh 2 0-0 6, Billy Thomas 3 4-6 13, Iziah James 2 0-0 6, Nick Wagner 5 0-0 14, Tajim Smith 2 3-4 7, JD Muila 0 0-2 0, Anthony Bratton 5 4-4 14, Tyler Chisom 2 0-0 4, Torrey Patton 6 3-6 16 Team 29 18-26 88
NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA A&M (5-3)
Ravel Moody 5 7-8 20, Dylan Van Eyck 2 1-1 6, Reaudale Williams 5 3-3 13, Kyle Lukasiewicz 5 3-3 14, Ramelo Williams 3 1-2 9, Samkelo Cele 2 2-3 6, Valentin Van Putten 2 0-0 4, Michael Rivera 2 1-2 5, Kyrele Benford 2-4 2 Team 26 21-28 80
Halftime score: NEO 34, Indian Hills 33; Three-point field goals: IHCC 12 (Wagner 4, Thomas 3, Singh 2, James 2, Patton 1), NEO 7 (Moody 3, Ra. Williams 2, Van Eyck 1, Lukasiewicz 1)