The Pilot Grove boys and girls basketball teams had a great start in the CCAA conference Wednesday night at home by beating the Malta Bend Tigers 72-20 and 75-14, respectively.
The Lady Tigers, 6-13 overall and 1-0 in the CCAA, led Malta Bend 37-4 at the half and 63-11 after three quarters of play.
Melissa Schlotzhauer scored a career-high 30 points for the Lady Tigers while adding eight rebounds, seven steals and four assists.
McKenzi Schuster chipped in 11 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and one blocked shot while Kerigan Wessing added nine points, nine rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocked shots, McKalie Lorenz with seven points, 10 rebounds, four steals and one assist, Rileigh Grunden with six points and one rebound, Cynthia Brumback with four points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot, Alexis Taylor with two points, four rebounds, three steals and one assist, MaKenzie Twenter with two points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal, Allison Weekly with two points, two assists, one rebound and one steal and Rachel Lorenz with two points, one rebound and one assist.
Pilot Grove coach Landon Daniel said this was a great way to start CCAA Conference play.
"This was a game where we got to work on the little things that make us better basketball players like playing defense with our feet, gaining position to grab rebounds, and good passing, and we did that tonight for the most part," Daniel said. "It took us a little while to get started and we had a slow second quarter but came back out in the second half with more intensity and drive to work hard. Everyone got to get into the game and that’s always a positive thing for our young team. Melissa Schlotzhauer continued with a hot hand with 30 points but young girls like MaKenzie Twenter, Rileigh Grunden, and Alexis Taylor did some good things for us tonight and improved on their game."
For Malta Bend, Danielle Kiser tossed in four points.
As for the Pilot Grove boys, they led Malta Bend 43-5 at the half and 61-10 after three quarters of play.
Dylan Twenter paced all scorers in the game for the Tigers, 14-6 overall and 1-0 in the CCAA, with 18 points. Ben Glenn chipped in 15, Brandon Brown 10, Jake Leverton eight and Colton Glenn, Kendall Kraus, Alex Twenter and Mason Schlotzhauer each with four points.
Pilot Grove coach Rick Grunden said this marked the first time this season that everyone played and everyone scored.
"It is hard to play against teams when they are having a down year," Grunden said. "I want to give props to Malta Bend, they come out and play every night and work as hard as they can. It shows great character on their part. This was the start of our CCAA conference season. We had a lot of good team play and it was a lot of fun to watch the kids really get behind each other on and off the court. It was especially exciting to watch Freshmen Ben Glenn score 15. Ben is a great kid who when he has confidence in himself does some good things on the floor.
"The importance of the evening rested in the fact that it was Senior night. This year we have four seniors who I am honestly taken aback when I think about how far they have come in the last four years. They are not only basketball players, but more importantly, fine young men. Dylan Twenter has played all four years and been a varsity starter the last two. Dylan has always been so lanky, in fact his wing span is three inches more than his overall height. There were times I worried that he may never get everything working together, but he has. He has become a fine rebounder and makes a lot of things happen for us. Brandon Brown actually joined our program last year, not as a transfer but as a first time player. Yes, Brandon had never played basketball before last year. He was so rough around the edges at the beginning and has come unbelievably far.
"This year he has earned varsity minutes for us which is quite a feat considering. Kendall Kraus has played all four years and been a varsity starter for the last three. Kendall plays so hard it makes me tired to watch him. I can’t say enough about his work ethic. He never gives up on a ball. People underestimate Kendall all the time, but it is usually to their determent. Our fourth senior is Adam Newell. Adam has been on the basketball team all four years and has earned significant varsity time this year. Adam has been handed many obstacles when it comes to playing ball. There is no doubt that between his knee, a car accident, and his firefighting training that he has sat out more basketball games than he has played in. However, I can tell you that everything he gets out of himself is driven by his heart. He plays unbelievably hard and would run through a wall if I asked him to. What impresses me most about these four seniors is that they have excellent character and work ethic. They will be fine young adults and I am blessed that I have had the last several years to share with them. However, our work is not done. These four seniors, our seven underclassmen, and our coaching staff have goals to reach and we don’t want to shut the book just yet."
For Malta Bend, Tyler Jenkins had 10 points.