The Pilot Grove boys basketball team had its post-season cut one game short of the Final Four over the weekend at Clinton High School by losing to Macks Creek 74-54.
The Tigers, who closed out the season at 24-6 overall, fell behind early against Macks Creek and could never catch up due in part to missing some early baskets.
Macks Creek led Pilot Grove 20-11 after first period’s end but had that cut to five at the half as the Tigers rallied back with a 14-10 advantage to make it a five-point ballgame at 30-25.
Unfortunately for Pilot Grove, they were unable to close the gap as Macks Creek added some distance in the third quarter with a 18-13 advantage to go up 48-38. Meanwhile, in the final period, the Pirates pulled away by outscoring Pilot Grove 26-16 to win the game by 10.
“We got off to a rough start by missing some early baskets and trailing 20-11 in the first quarter before loosening up a little bit,” said Pilot Grove coach Derek Skaggs. “We came out very tight and I feel that if we would have made those early chippers we would have been able to settle in sooner. A game with such magnitude like this it’s hard to give teams an early lead and come back but I told our boys early that basketball is a game of runs and we put runs together better than anyone. We proved that by putting together a better defensive and offensive second quarter by cutting it down to five going in at the half.”
Despite being outscored by five in the third quarter, Skaggs said Macks Creek came out and hit some timely baskets while the Tigers continued to try and scrap their way back into it.
“With four minutes left in the game was that last time we had a shot at taking the advantage as we cut a double digit lead to five, but they did what they needed to do at the line in order to put the game away by hitting 16 of 21 free throws in the fourth quarter alone,” Skaggs said. “They were one of the most athletic teams we had played this year and really proved that on the boards by grabbing 17 offensive boards of which accumulated for many second chance points.
“I told our kids that they had nothing to be ashamed of though. This was the third time in school history that our kids have advanced to this level in state playoffs only advancing once. We were a pretty young team when you think about our kids on the floor with two sophomores, a junior, two seniors and one of those being a first-year player.”
Mason Schlotzhauer led the Tigers with 27 points. Colton Glenn chipped in nine while Trenton Young added eight and Reagan Meisenheimer and Jake Leverton each with five points.
For Macks Creek, Austin Mitchell had 20, Matt Hicks 17 points and four assists, Cody Eidson 15 points and 12 rebounds and Alec Kinder with 14 points and 20 rebounds.