Going into Friday night's game against the Kirksville Tigers in NCMC action at Fred Biesemeyer Court, Boonville Pirates basketball coach Scott Floyd knew it might by one of those grind it out games.
While averaging 49-50 points per game for the season, Floyd said the Tigers also have a knack for playing teams close.
Such was the case Friday night as Boonville and Kirksville combined for just 37 points after the first-two quarters. But that all changed in the second half as the Pirates outscored the Tigers 30-26 en route to a 49-44 victory.
While the win improved Boonville's record to 9-8 overall and 3-2 in the NCMC, Floyd said he thought his played gutted this win out.
"Despite the fact that we went on several scoring droughts, we maintained our defensive composure to come away with the much needed conference win," Floyd said. "In particular, freshman JT Washington came off the bench and added some much needed rebounding for us. He kept the ball alive on several offensive possessions and also grabbed some defensive rebounds against a scrappy Kirksville squad.
"We knew going in that Kirksville is a very scrappy team that plays in low scoring, close games. Our team was ready for the challenge and made enough plays when needed. Jay Barnhart and Tyler Peterson were able to provide us with enough scoring to keep the Tigers from gaining the lead. Gus Kemp came away with a team leading four steals and Tavious was able to grab five rebounds. Damario Walker played his usual solid floor game. I am very happy with the progress of this team. Like I said before, I feel like we are improving as a team at the right time of year. It was very important for us to climb above the .500 mark in conference. It should give us confidence as we move forward in the last month of the season."
The Pirates will have plenty of time to think about the game against Kirksville, as they are off until Friday at Mexico. Then it's back on the road for another conference game on Tuesday, Jan. 29 against the Kirksville Tigers.
Although Boonville finished the game shooting only 38 percent from the field, they were slightly better at the foul line while hitting on 12 of 20 shots for 60 percent.
The Pirates also had two players in double figures for the game, with junior Tyler Peterson leading the way with 13 points along with five rebounds and one steal.
Senior Jay Barnhart, meanwhile, finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds and one assist. Damario Walker added nine points, three rebounds and two assists while Gus Kemp chipped in seven points, four steals, two rebounds and one assist, Tavious Brazil with six points and five rebounds and JT Washington with two points, nine rebounds and one steal.
As for Kirksville, Tyson Grgurich tossed in 14 points.
The Pirates also put together a nice run in the first quarter by outscoring Kirksville 17-10 on 7 of 11 shooting. Of course it took a 6-0 run at the 3:13 mark in the first to pull away from Kirksville while leading 15-7. Freshman Tavious Brazil also had the hot hand early for Boonville with six of the team's 17 points.
As for the second quarter, that's a different story as Boonville came out ice cold while hitting on only 1 of 6 shots. Of course the Tigers weren't much better while outscoring the Pirates 8-2 to cut the lead to one at 19-18 at the half.
Despite scoring only two points in the period, Floyd said he thought his team was getting great looks. "I think the thing that hurt us in the second quarter it wasn't so much the offense but it was defensively," Floyd said. "We were allowing them a lot of second chance points and for as small as they are they hit the offensive glass and we couldn't convert."
Luckily the Pirates still had two quarters to make up for the disastrous second period. However after the Tigers tied the game at 19-all with 7:22 left in the third, Boonville came back and reeled off six straight points on baskets by Walker, Barnhart and Peterson to make it 25-19.
Kirksville didn't go down without a fight though. Right after Boonville's run, the Tigers came back with their own run by scoring five straight to cut the lead to one at 25-24. Meanwhile, after both teams battled again to a 27-27 tie, the Pirates came back and reeled off another five in a row on a three by Peterson, who had seven points in the period, and a tip-in by Walker to extend the lead to five at 32-27.
The fourth quarter was just as close as the first-three periods, with Kirksville cutting the lead to four (34-30) at the 6:06 mark only to have Boonville come back and reel off six straight to up the lead to nine at 39-30 with 4:22 left. The Tigers also closed the game to three points on three different occasions at 41-38, 44-41 and 46-43. However over the final 30 seconds, the Pirates closed out the game hitting 3 of 4 shots from the line to win by five.
As for the JV game, Kirksville defeated Boonville by a score of 50-34.
The Pirates, dropping to 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the NCMC, trailed Kirksville 5-4 after first period's and then were outscored 15-6 in the second to trail at the half by a score of 20-10. Meanwhile, after Boonville held a 13-12 advantage in the third, Kirksville came back and outscored the Pirates 18-10 in the fourth to win the game by 16.
Boonville JV coach Kent Peterson said his team struggled all night in every aspect of the game.
"Give Kirksville credit, they were ready to play and were well coached," Peterson said. "I told the kids after the game I did a poor job of preparing our team and making adjustments. We struggled offensively to run an offense and had a difficult time with handling their pressure. We had 17 turnovers, which many of those led to easy opportunities for Kirksville. We played much of the game without JT Washington and missed his energy and leadership. We will work this week and fix our offensive issues and work harder on our defensive assignments as well as blending some new parts as JT continues to see more varsity time.
"We battled hard in the third quarter and cut the lead to three points with about a minute left in the quarter and then gave up a three-point play and a layup at the buzzer on a missed defensive assignment to allow Kirksville to extend the lead to eight points. I really believe that was the turning point of the game for us. We have a week of practice and will get ready for Mexico on Friday."
DeAundre Lewis had the game-high for Boonville with 18 points along with four rebounds and two steals.
Clayton Lang added eight points, three steals, two rebounds and one assist while Bryce Fuemmeler chipped in five points and two rebounds, JT Washington with three points, three rebounds, one steal and one assist, Dalton Hodge with three assists, two rebounds and one steal, Alec Viertel with three rebounds and Christian Burns, Conner Pond and Jady Reese each with one rebound.
Boonville's JV also finished the game hitting 14 of 42 shots from the field for 33 percent and 5 of 12 from the foul line for 42 percent.