Sixth-ranked Medomak Valley entered the Class A North quarterfinal playoff game against No. 3 Skowhegan on Saturday, Feb. 17 as the underdog — on paper, by seedings — but that all changed once the game started its course.

The first half saw a back-and-forth affair, with lead changes between the squads, but, when the first half finished, and second half began, the Panthers kicked it into high gear.

Medomak Valley — perhaps with revenge on its mind after last year’s regional quarterfinal playoff loss to the Indians when the Panthers were undefeated and ranked first and Skowhegan eighth — used a 37-10 burst in the second half on Saturday to dominant the Indians to the tune of a 63-31 victory.

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With the impressive victory, the Panthers (12-7) advance to face No. 2 Nokomis of Newport (13-6), a 70-45 quarterfinal winner over No. 7 Erskine Academy of South China (8-11), on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in the semifinals at the ACC.

Medomak Valley and Nokomis met once during the regular season, as the Warriors won 49-45 on Dec. 21 in the Panthers' gymnasium.

The Panthers and Indians did not meet during the regular season.

In Saturday's playoff game, Medomak Valley led 14-12 at the end of the first quarter, 26-21 at halftime and 39-29 at the end of the third stanza.

Brent Stewart led the Panthers with 16 points, while Josh Goldrup added 13; Ryan Creamer, 11; Gabe Allaire, nine; Alec Coughlin, six; Ethan Reed and Jordan Powell, three; and Nathan Emerson, two.

Marcus Christopher keyed Skowhegan with 13 points; Cam Barnes, nine; Cole Pierce, five; and Tyler Elliot and Kyle Kruse, two.

The Panthers finished 13-of-17 (76 percent) from the free-throw line, while the Indians were 6-of-8 (75 percent) from the charity stripe.

Statistically, Creamer (rebound, 3 steals), Jordan Powell (rebound), Stewart (2 rebounds, steal), Allaire (3 rebounds, assist), Ethan Spear (rebound), Reed (2 rebounds), Emerson (rebound, assist), Coughlin (2 rebounds) and Goldrup (2 rebounds, 2 assists) had key roles.

“Total team effort,” said Panther coach Nick DePatsy. “We took care of the basketball and didn’t have a lot of turnovers. I’m very happy.”

Stewart opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Panthers the early lead. After a Skowhegan bucket, and a Creamer hoop, the Indians got their first edge of the game with three minutes to play in the first quarter.

The Panthers and Indians traded buckets the rest of the first stanza, and Reed knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Medomak Valley the lead again, after it had trailed late.

At the start of the second quarter Skowhegan tied the score 15-15 when Christopher hit a bucket, got the foul, and sank the free throw.

Skowhegan held a one-point cushion with less than three minutes to play in the half, but Goldrup drilled a trey from the top of the key to give the Panthers a two-point lead, followed by a Creamer 3-pointer, and a Coughlin basket and free throw, with five seconds remaining, to cap a 9-0 run to close the first half.

Medomak Valley did not relinquish that advantage the rest of the way.

Skowhegan did tie the game at 26-26, with four quick points to start the second half, but the Panthers went on an 11-0 run, to gain an 11-point advantage .

Medomak Valley kept the pressure on in the final frame, as the Panthers outscored the Indians 24-2 to close the game.

“For some reason something clicked,” DePatsy said. “This team can defend when they want too, they are a good defensive team. We started getting to the rim and getting easy shots.”

“We finally just got it going,” Stewart said. “I don’t know what happened, but it was amazing.”

And for last year’s loss against Skowhegan, do not let the Panthers fool you, the revenge factor was mentioned before Saturday's game.

“We got some people in that locker room from last year,” DePatsy said. "We have some brothers and some siblings, but we were mentally focused tonight.”

And Skowhegan, which certainly enjoyed last year's first-round upset of Medomak Valley, had the tables turned this time around, as the Indians felt the brunt of the Panthers' stellar all-around play — and laser-like focus.