The Pilot Grove boys and girls basketball teams have had better starts to the season.
Friday night’s home opener against the Madison Panthers wasn’t one of them as the Lady Tigers and Tigers fell by the scores of 74-47 and 64-33, respectively.
While the Pilot Grove boys and girls trailed from the opening tip in both games, girls head coach Landon Daniel said it just seemed like his team couldn't put anything together.
“Not the start we wanted to the season,” Daniel said. “We really struggled getting the ball in the basket, shooting 22 percent from the field. Madison is a good ballclub with strong guards and big girls in the post, but we are not 30 points worse than them. We will get better and it starts in practice. We will work on a bunch of things and get better in every facet of the game.”
As for the Lady Panthers, they seemed to pick up where they left off last year after winning a district title and advancing to the sectional round of the state playoffs.
Although the Lady Tigers put up a good fight in the second and fourth quarters, they were no match for Madison in the opening period or third.
The Lady Panthers outscored Pilot Grove in all four quarters and looked to be the more seasoned team on the floor with three players in double figures.
Madison also never trailed in the game and led Pilot Grove 17-4 after first period’s end and 33-14 at the half.
The good news is that senior Reagan Walker was on her game against Madison. While finishing with a team-high 17 points, Walker also had at one time 16 of the team’s 26 points. She also had all three of the team’s three-pointers in the first half to finish with nine of the team’s 14 points.
But even that wasn't enough as Madison came out in the third quarter and reeled off six straight points to extend the lead to 40-14 with 3:35 left.
The Lady Panthers also outscored Pilot Grove 14-5 in the third to make it 47-19.
With a running clock to start the final period, Pilot Grove showed some fight by cut the leading to 26 at 52-26 with 5:58 left after a three by Walker. Unfortunately for the Lady Tigers, they never got any closer in the ballgame as Madison pushed the lead back to 29 with a 12-7 run to closeout the game.
Keleigh Bennett led three players in double figures for Madison with 16 points. Biance Stock chipped in 14 while Charity Morris added 11.
For Pilot Grove, Walker finished the game with 17 points, three steals, two rebounds and two assists.
Emily Schupp had five points, 12 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot while Chloe Schlotzhauer added five points, six rebounds and three steals, Abby Schupp two points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists, Natalie Rentel two points and one rebound, Kaitlen Weekley one point, five rebounds and one assist and Reagan McFatrich with one point, two assists and two steals.
Pilot Grove also finished the game hitting just 10 of 44 shots from the field for 23 percent and 8 of 21 from the foul line for 38 percent. Madison finished the game making 6 of 8 shots from the line for 75 percent.
The Madison boys also looked like world beaters against Pilot Grove while leading by double digits from the third quarter on.
Pilot Grove coach Derek Skaggs said credit to Madison as they shot the ball very well and the Tigers did not.  
“We also put them on the free throw line 28 times in which they connected 17 of those,” Skaggs said. “Several factors in tonight’s game and we have to take what we learned tonight and make it better. The great thing is it is early and I don’t believe we will ever shoot it again as cold as we were tonight.”
Although the Panthers led by as much as 27, which just so happened to come on the final basket of the game, Pilot Grove managed to play Madison close for about a quarter and a half while trailing by five at 30-25 with 2:58 left.
But while the Tigers scored in double figures in three out of the four quarters of play, Madison hit doubie digits in all four quarters to lead 20-14 after one, 36-25 at the half and 53-32 after three.
Pilot Grove’s best quarter came in the fourth after putting up 15 points. The only problem is that Madison scored 21 and finished the game on a 12-4 run.
Jimmy Layton and Dakota Lafferty each had 24 points in the game for Madison.
For Pilot Grove, Lucas Fahrendorf finished the game with 12 points. Bailey Quint tossed in 10 points while Cole Meisenheimer added seven, Ethan Williams and Anderson Twenter each with six and Donnavan Gerke, Gavin Shepherd and Laben Twenter each with two points.