The Pilot Grove boys basketball team couldn’t have picked a tougher opponent last night in the opening round of the  31st annual Slater Wildcat Classic.


The Pilot Grove boys basketball team couldn’t have picked a tougher opponent last night in the opening round of the  31st annual Slater Wildcat Classic.

Playing No. 2 Higginsville, the Tigers fell hard on the road against the Huskers by a score of 74-29.

Pilot Grove, the No. 6 seed in the tournament, trailed Higginsville 27-5 after one, 37-19 at the half and 60-27 after three quarters of play. Meanwhile, in the final period, the Huskers outscored Pilot Grove 14-2 to win the game by 45.

Despite the loss, which dropped Pilot Grove to 8-6 on the season, head coach Rick Grunden in his opinion the Slater Tournament is one of the toughest tournaments in Missouri for Classes 1-3.

“Going into the game against Class 3 Higginsville I knew we would be challenged,”?Grunden said. “They are much bigger than we are, they are much more experienced than we are, and they play the game quicker than any team we have faced this year. Neither the outcome nor the score was what we would have liked it to be. However, there is a lot that we can gain from games like this where we are forced to play at a higher level. We can’t play the game with any regret or trepidation. We just have to go out there and put it all on the line, celebrating our successes and learning from our mistakes. The end result will be what it will be. We’re going to use this week to make us better.”

Tyrell Thirkeld had 18 points and Adam Nolte 12 for Higginsville.

For Pilot Grove, Trevor Day tossed in nine points while Sean Lorenz added six, Jake Leverton five, Dylan Twenter four, Colton Glenn three and Kendall Kraus with two.

In other games last night in the tournament, the top-seeded Sacred Heart boys turned back seventh-seeded Slater 76-39. On the girls side of the bracket, No. 1 Sacred Heart won 55-33 over Santa Fe while Higginsville upended Slater 52-29.

Tournament action will continue tonight, with the Fayette girls playing Pilot Grove at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Glasgow boys versus Pilot Grove at 6, Glasgow girls versus Slater at 7:30 and Fayette boys versus Santa Fe at 9.