New Franklin boys basketball coach Jim Schlotzhauer waited patiently in the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs to turn it up Monday night against Pilot Grove in CAC action at New Franklin.
While battling back and forth for the first-three quarters, Schlotzhauer’s Bulldogs found themselves trailing by two at 39-37 with 4:35 left in the game. However a 5-0 run over the next-two minutes also but eased his worries as New Franklin outscored Pilot Grove 18-6 in the period en route to a 50-43 victory.
“We won a close contest tonight,” stated Schlotzhauer. “I thought Pilot Grove played harder than we did for the majority of the game. Our kids were very passive on the board and that led to way too many second chance points for Pilot Grove. We also were a half step slow on most rotations which gave Pilot Grove a lot of chances from the line. Offensively, I thought Pilot Grove mixed defense quite a bit. It took our kids a while to diagnose what they should be doing to be successful. In situations like this, we have to learn to just slow down and let the game come to us.”
The Bulldogs, who improved to 11-10 overall and 6-2 in the CAC, were lucky to be in the game at all in the first quarter after hitting just 3 of 12 shots from the field compared to 6 of 15 for Pilot Grove.
Trailing 15-10 after one against the Tigers, New Franklin rallied back to tie the game on three different occasions in the second quarter at 16-16, 18-18 and 20-all. Meanwhile, to closeout the period, sophomore Kolby Anson made his only basket of the game with 47 seconds left to put the Bulldogs up by two at 22-20.
The third quarter was just a close as the first-two periods with Pilot Grove holding a 15-12 advantage. Pilot Grove and New Franklin also played to three ties again in the quarter at 24-24, 26-26 and 30-all. However after the Bulldogs went up by two at 32-30 after a basket by freshman Gavin Bishop, Pilot Grove responded with a 7-0 run over the next minute and a half to go up by five at 37-32.
While playing some of their best basket for 24 minutes, the Tigers may have also played one of their worst quarters of the season in the fourth by scoring a total of six points.
But even then Pilot Grove had a chance while lead New Franklin 39-37 with 4:35 remaining.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they had little to show for the rest of the game while scoring only four points to suffer the loss.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, outscored Pilot Grove 13-4 from the 3:43 mark on to win the game by seven but also had a few tense moments when the Tigers cut the lead to three at 46-43 on a basket by senior Brady Rentel.
Pilot Grove coach Derek Skaggs said this game was a full game effort from the kids.
“We came out and competed for four quarters and couldn’t come up with those key baskets late in the game,” Skaggs said. “The energy and effort tonight needs to continue on into Friday night’s Homecoming game versus Cairo. We need to build some positive energy going into districts like we did last year. We still feel that we are a good team despite our record and could shake things up in district play.”
Gavin Bishop had a career night for the Bulldogs with 12 points. Bailey Lyons chipped in 11, Brendan Hundley and Mason Bailey nine each, Austin Jones four, Hunter Rohlfing three and Kolby Anson with two.
For Pilot Grove, who dropped to 5-17 overall and 0-9 in the CAC, Brady Rentel had 13 points.
Cole Meisenheimer finished the game with 12 points while Steven Bell and Cole Mize added eight points each and Lucas Fahrendorf with two points.
Pilot Grove and New Franklin were fairly even at the foul line, with the Tigers hitting 15 of 24 shots for 63 percent compared to 11 of 18 for the Bulldogs for 61 percent.
Pilot Grove will be at home Friday against Cairo while New Franklin will go on the road to face the Glasgow Yellowjackets in CAC action.