Pilot Grove boys falls 78-73

Pilot Grove junior Reagan Walker and sophomore Emily Schupp couldn’t have played any better Tuesday night at home on Senior-Parents Night against the Slater Wildcats.
With the district tournament starting next week in Bunceton, Walker and Schupp led the way for the Lady Tigers by combining for 46 of the team’s 65 points in a 65-27 triumph against Slater.
As for the Pilot Grove boys, they fell in a heartbreaker against the Wildcats 78-73.
While the win improved the Lady Tigers record to 11-12 overall and 3-8 in the CAC, head coach Landon Daniel said this was a much needed game to restore some confidence.
“I thought we played extremely well in the first half of the game by using pressure defense to force Slater into multiple turnovers which we converted in transition,” Daniel said. “We also did a great job of limiting our turnovers in the first half and used really good passing to set up girls for open shots and finishes at the rim. However we did get into some foul trouble which caused us to play a little hesitant in the second half and not as efficiently. We have to do a better job and knowing when we can try and go for steals and stop trying to block shots in the paint and putting ourselves in bad situations. All that being said I’m very proud of all of our girls and glad we got to give the seniors a win for their last home game.”
The Lady Tigers also had a great shooting night against Slater while hitting on 23 of 46 shots from the field for 50 percent and 14 of 22 from the foul line for 64 percent.
Of course it didn’t hurt that Pilot Grove jumped out to a 15-0 first quarter lead or that the Lady Tigers forced seven turnovers in the first quarter alone.
The only thing Pilot Grove didn’t do well in the first quarter was shoot free throws, as they were 3 of 8 for 38 percent.
Walker and Schupp also combined for 16 of the team’s 25 points in the first quarter as the Lady Tigers led 25-7.
The second quarter was just as lopsided as the first as Pilot Grove held a 21-6 advantage after reeling off nine and 11 points on two different occasions.
Walker and Schupp again put up nine points each in the second period as Pilot Grove extended its lead at the break to 46-13.
The second half was a carbon copy of the first as Pilot Grove held a 15-8 scoring edge in the third to push the lead to 40 at 61-21. Meanwhile, with a running clock in place for the final period, Slater came out and outscored the Lady Tigers 6-4.
Schupp finished the game with a double-double with 27 points and 11 rebounds along with two assists. Walker, meanwhile, chipped in 19 points, six rebounds and three assists. Marissa Day added nine points and four rebounds while Chloe Schlotzhauer had four points, three assists and two rebounds, Celine Dodson with four points and three rebounds and Karsyn Kraus with two points, seven rebounds and one assist.
For Slater, Carley Grimes and Abby Ulich each had five points.
As for the Pilot Grove boys, they had every chance to beat Slater while trailing by just two (71-69) with 1:34 left.
However over the next 94 seconds, the Wildcats staved off several rallies by Pilot Grove by knocking off some free throws late for the five-point victory.
While the loss dropped Pilot Grove to 6-18 overall and 1-10 in the CAC, head coach Derek Skaggs said the kids fought all night but couldn’t get that one big possession. “We got down as many as 11 and rallied back to within three late,” Skaggs said. “However, we gave up a couple key offensive rebounds that resulted in them getting extra opportunities to keep the game out of reach. It never comes down to just one play in the night, though. There are many plays throughout the night that were critical to our overall performance. We will bounce back Friday night and get momentum for our district opponent, Jamestown. One thing with this bunch is every night they step on the floor they fight until the end.”
The Tigers definitely showed fight on Tuesday while leading Slater 22-21 after one.
Pilot Grove also led by as much as six (32-26) in the second quarter despite starting the period 0 for 6 from the field.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they were unable to hold on to the lead as Slater stormed back with eight unanswered points midway through the second period to go up by two at 34-32.
Pilot Grove and Slater then played to two ties after that with the Wildcats holding a three-point lead at the break 43-40.
The Tigers also had a slow start in the third quarter as Slater came out and reeled off six straight points to extend the lead to 49-40. The Wildcats also outscored Pilot Grove in the third 16-11 to lead by eight at 59-51.
However, in the final period, Pilot Grove cut the lead to two with a little over a minute to play and still had a chance down 76-73 with 20 seconds left. But after a missed free throw by Slater, the Tigers missed their mark on a three to tie the game in the final seconds for the loss.
Latrell Johnson had the game-high for Slater with 26 points.
For Pilot Grove, who dropped to 6-18 overall and 1-10 in the CAC, Brady Rentel finished the game with 24 points. Cole Meisenheimer chipped in 16, Steven Bell 12, Cole Mize and Parker Schuster each with eight, Lucas Fahrendorf four and Gavin Shepherd with two.
Slater also made seven more free throws in the game while hitting 18 of 24 shots for 75 percent compared to 11 of 20 for the Tigers for 55 percent.