Perry got out to a big lead and withstood a second-half rally from Howard to beat the Huskies 58-52 in the quarterfinals of the Region 2-AAAA tournament and earn its first state playoff berth since 2008.
“None of these guys have played in a playoff game, so I think they were definitely hungry,” Perry head coach Brett Hardy said.
The Panthers led by as many as 16 in the second half, but an offensive lull helped the Huskies shoot their way back into the game from the foul line.
Howard went more than eight minutes without a field goal, but the Huskies made 8-of-12 free throws to chip away.
Perry’s lead dwindled to a point in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers made 9-of-11 foul shots in the final few minutes to pull away.
Casey Hayward, who now plays for the Green Bay Packers, was a senior on Perry’s last state playoff team.