Pilot Grove boys and girls advance with wins in the New Franklin Tournament

The Sturgeon girls basketball team may have been the tournament’s No. 6 seed going into Monday night’s opening round in the New Franklin Invitational Tournament.
But don’t tell that to the Lady Bulldogs, who knocked off third-seeded New Franklin by a score of 41-31.
In other games in the tournament last night, the No. 2 Pilot Grove girls defeated seventh-seeded Bunceton 54-30 while the top-seeded Sturgeon boys cruised to a 82-18 win over eighth-seeded Bunceton. Meanwhile, in the final game last night, the No. 4 Pilot Grove boys topped the 70-point mark against fifth-seeded Fayette for a 70-58 victory.
Tournament action will continue tonight, with the top-seeded Tipton girls playing Fayette at 4:30 p.m., followed by Tipton boys versus Sweet Springs at 6, Sweet Springs girls versus Westran at 7:30 and New Franklin boys versus Westran at 9.
While shooting just 28 percent from the field and 29 percent from the foul line, it’s easy to see why New Franklin trailed Sturgeon after the first-two periods by a score of 20-11. However after matching Sturgeon with eight points in the third, the Lady Bulldogs still found themselves on the outside looking in while trailing by a score of 28-19.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that in the third period, New Franklin cut the lead to three at 22-19 after a basket by senior Aislinn Himmelberg with 4:17 left. However, a 6-0 run over the final four minutes quelled any kind of a rally by the Lady Bulldogs.
Himmelberg also had the hot hand in the final period for New Franklin with nine of the team’s 12 points. Unfortunately for New Franklin, it wasn’t enough as Sturgeon held a 13-12 scoring edge for the victory.
New Franklin coach Ryan Lyons said he thought over the Christmas break that the girls practiced well and improved in several areas, but that is not what they showed last night.
“We are still struggling to shoot well and with confidence and we are fouling too much on defense,” Lyons said. “When you give a team like Sturgeon 32 attempts at the free-throw line, you are most likely going to lose. On the positive side, my girls showed some heart by coming out in the second half and closed the gap to three points. We need to play with this level of energy from start to finish in order to be successful.”
Caty Barrett had the game-high for Sturgeon with 24 points.
For New Franklin, who dropped to 3-5 overall, Madi Lyons finished the game with 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one steal. Himmelberg also had 11 points, three steals, two rebounds and one assist while Madison Matney added four points and two rebounds, Derian Dodson with two points, four rebounds and one assist, Cassie Armentrout with two points, two rebounds and one steal and Kacie White with one point, four rebounds and one assist.
In the second game, the Sturgeon boys jumped out to a 46-9 halftime lead and then outscored the Dragons 36-13 in the second half.
Tanner Sanker had 20 points and Chase Wells 16 for Sturgeon.
For Bunceton, who dropped to 0-9 on the season, Aaron Clevenger tossed in nine points, Jordon Angermayer five, Rylee Knapheide three and Riley Layne with one.
In a CCAA matchup in the third game, the Bunceton Lady Dragons basketball team had the Pilot Grove Lady Tigers back on their heels in the first quarter while leading 10-6. However, in the second quarter, Pilot Grove began to asset itself on the offensive end while outscoring Bunceton 20-14 to lead by two (26-24) at the break. The Lady Tigers never trailed after that by outscoring Bunceton 28-6 in the second half for the 24-point victory.
Pilot Grove coach Landon Daniel said it was bit of a slow start but strong finish.
“Going into the game we knew that Bunceton was going to shoot a lot from the outside and that we needed to be able to get the rebound and push the basketball up the floor in transition,” Daniel said. “They hit their shots earlier and we didn’t. We switched up defenses in the second quarter to add more pressure to their guards and the girls really responded to that switch. Our defense then really picked up in the second half holding Bunceton to only six points. We had some girls in foul trouble early and that forced some other girls to have to step up and hit some shots and our team responded very well. Melissa Schlotzhauer had a very nice game to lead the way for us, but it was a good team win.”
Melissa Schlotzhauer finished the game with a double-double for Pilot Grove, who improved to 7-3, with 16 points and 11 rebounds. She also had three assists, two steals and one blocked shot.
Kerigan Wessing tallied 12 points and seven rebounds while Allison Weekley added 10 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists, McKalie Lorenz with seven points, five rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot, Reagan Walker with three points, four assists and three rebounds, Cynthia Brumback with two points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal, MaKenzie Twenter with two points and two rebounds, Karsyn Kraus with two points, Marissa Day with three rebounds and one assist, Rachel Lorenz with one assist and one steal and Celine Dodson with one rebound.
The Lady Tigers also finished the game shooting 30 percent from the field and 56 percent from the foul line.
For Bunceton, who dropped to 2-7 on the season, Rachel Lenz had eight points, four rebounds and two steals.
Julia Kahle added seven points, eight steals, three rebounds and two assists while Lauren Wieland chipped in seven points, one rebound, one steal and one assist, Deanne Emde with three points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals, Skyler Shuffield with three points, three rebounds, one steal and one assist and Morgan Wieland with two points and one steal.
Bunceton coach Mike Arnold said the girls played better against Pilot Grove. “I was proud of our effort on defense,” Arnold said. We still need to find ways to score. Every game we are gaining confidence and experience.”
In the final game last night, the Pilot Grove boys led Fayette from the first quarter on for the 12-point victory.
Of course nobody expected junior Mason Schlotzhauer to have his best game of the season with 37 points along with six rebounds, three assists and one steal. That’s all it took for the Tigers to go in at the half on top 37-24. Pilot Grove also held a 16-14 advantage in the third period before Fayette closed the gap in the fourth quarter.
While the win improved Pilot Grove’s record to 8-2 overall, head coach Derek Skaggs said he thought the boys played well for three quarters.
“In the fourth quarter we got relaxed and they started catching fire to pull as close to six,” Skaggs said. “Our guys were able to settle down and finish as they put some pressure on us in the full court with our number two guard fouled out. Everyone is just working on being consistent at this point in the season. Sturgeon is going to be tough and we have to start preparing for their style and hope to make the championship battle.”
Ben Glenn finished the game for Pilot Grove with nine points and four rebounds while Jake Leverton added eight points, 10 rebounds, two assists and one steal, Regan Meisenheimer with five points, three assists and two steals, Alex Cooper and Alex Twenter each with four points and two rebounds and Keaton Vollrath with three points, three steals, two rebounds and one assist.
For Fayette, Davis Valencia had 19, Blake Dawson 14 and Tommy Phillips with 11.