January 23, 2014 Updated: January 24, 2014 at 3:16 pm
PEYTON - Early, Peyton attacked Kiowa's zone defense and used its size advantage to get the upper hand.
Later, its outside game took over, hitting five 3-pointers to fuel a 61-51 victory Thursday that kept the Panthers as the only unbeaten team in 2A Black Forest League play.
"We had a rough start after an emotional game against Simla," Chris Epps said. "No matter what, we had to pound the ball inside. That's where our strength is."
Big man Tristen Heffner led all scorers with 18 points, and Epps, a sharpshooting guard, added 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, as Peyton (10-2, 2-0) fought off a late charge one night after a draining, one-point league win at Simla.
Kiowa (5-4, 2-1), trailing by 10 midway through the third quarter, sliced the deficit to 38-34 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter after two free throws by Steven Mizak.
By the time one minute had elapsed off the clock, Epps had scored eight straight points on consecutive 3-pointers from the left wing and a pair of free throws to start a game-changing 13-0 run.
Colton Smith's 3-pointer from the right side, his third trey of the half, ended the run and gave the Panthers a 51-34 lead, their largest of the night.
"We like to go inside early with our size, and generally, it works pretty well," first-year Panthers coach Alan Karg said. "We have good 3-point shooters, and I feel if we're pounding it inside, it opens up our opportunities on the outside. We generally shoot more 3s in the second half."
Mizak, who led the Indians with 16 points, led a late charge, hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key that highlighted a 9-0 run that trimmed the margin to 57-51.
Brian Griffen, one of Peyton's towers down low, started and ended a 11-0 run as the Panthers appeared to take control, ahead 19-11 early in the second quarter.
Caleb Smith scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half, including three baskets late in the second quarter that brought the Indians to within 27-21 at halftime. Minutes before, Peyton seemed poised to break it open after a quick run had given it a 25-15 edge.