The Pilot Grove boys and girls basketball team opened the 2012-13 season in convincing fashion Tuesday night at home against the Smithton Tigers.
While the Lady Tigers defeated Smithton 56-37, the Pilot Grove boys were just as impressive with a 56-45 victory.
The Pilot Grove girls, 1-0 on the season, opened the first quarter with a 9-9 tie against Smithton but outscored the Lady Tigers 47-28 for the rest of the game to win by 19.
Pilot Grove coach Landon Daniel said a phenomenal start to the season.
“We went into the game knowing that we were going to be outsized and needed to push the ball and work the boards as much as possible and we executed extremely well,” Daniel said. “Our three sophomores scored and did what they had to do and that was be leaders for our freshman who also stepped up and played a great game. This is a really good thing for us to build on and we are going to use our long break to make it even better and get ready for Father Tolton next Friday.”
Sophomore Melissa Schlotzhauer led three players in double figures for Pilot Grove with 18 points along with nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one blocked shot.
Kerigan Wessing finished the game with 17 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three assists while McKalie Lorenz added 10 points, three rebounds and one steal, McKenzi Schuster with seven points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal, Cynthia Brumback with four points, six rebounds and five steals, Rachel Lorenz with two steals, one rebound and one assist, Katelyn Renfro with two steals and one rebound and Allison Weekly and Rileigh Grunden each with one rebound.
For Smithton, Mariah Cairer had 16 and Bethany Freel 14.
As for Pilot Grove boys, they led 12-9 after one, 25-21 at the half and 37-33 after three quarters of play. Meanwhile, in the final period, the Tigers held a 14-12 advantage to win by 11.
Pilot Grove coach Rick Grunden said for the first game of the year the boys battled adversity in foul trouble and had to rely on both their bench play and underclassmen.  
“We learned a lot about ourselves and the direction we need to take next,” Grunden said.  “Most teams don’t see in five games the challenges we had tonight.  I am very proud of each of my kids because they never gave up. We matured a lot as a team in this 11 point victory.”
Mason Schlotzhauer had the team-high for Pilot Grove in his freshman debut with 18 points. Regan Meisenheimer and Jake Leverton chipped in nine while Dylan Twenter added eight, Colton Glenn five, Adam Newell with four and Kendall Kraus with three.
For Smithton, Dane Apsner tossed in 29 points.