The Pilot Grove boys and girls basketball teams were close to pulling off upsets Friday night in CAC action against the Madison Panthers.
Although the Tigers and Lady Tigers went in as heavy underdogs against Madison, they both had chances in the end only to fall short by the scores of 47-42 and 61-57, respectively.
The Lady Tigers, dropping to 10-6 overall and 2-4 in the CAC, trailed Madison 14-11 after one and 34-23 at the half before rallying back with a 13-12 advantage in the third to make it a 10 point ballgame at 46-36. Meanwhile, in the fourth, Pilot Grove made a run at Madison by outscoring the Lady Panthers 20-15 to cut the lead to four.
Pilot Grove coach Landon Daniel said this was a playoff type level of play for this game.
“Our girls wanted to really show that the first game of the year we played against Madison and got beat by 32 points was not a good example of how good of a team we are,” Daniel said. “We had a great gameplan that the girls executed very well and had  a lot of girls get involved on the offensive end. Madison had us down early and we really challenged the girls to stick together and finish this game the way we knew they could and they did.
“We took the lead in the fourth quarter with about two minutes left and lead by as many as four. We had a few things not go our way and Madison ended up tying the game with 18 seconds left and we had two straight turnovers trying to inbound the ball and Madison hit free throws to win it. Very proud of every single girl on this team and I really think we have some special here at Pilot Grove with this group if they keep working hard.”
Tiffany Lafferty led three players in double figures for Madison with 20 points. Biancee Stock tossed in 16 while Keeley Bennett added 11.
For Pilot Grove, Melanie Wolfe finished the game with a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Emily Schupp also had a double-double in the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds along with five assists. Reagan Walker chipped in 12 points, four assists and two rebounds while Chloe Schlotzhauer added eight points, seven rebounds and one assist, Abby Schupp three points and three assists and Kaitlen Weekley with two points, six rebounds and one assist.
The Lady Tigers also had a great night shooting the ball while hitting on 20 of 49 shots from the field for 41 percent and 10 of 11 from the foul line for 91 percent.
The Pilot Grove boys also played what head coach Derek Skaggs called a hard fought game against Madison.
While leading the Panthers for the first-three quarters by taking a 12-7 lead after one, 20-14 advantage into the half and 30-25 edge after three, the Tigers had that one quarter where Madison rallied back with a 22-12 score for the victory.
Skaggs said the guys fought hard and led for three quarters.
“This is just one of those that are tough to swallow,” Skaggs said. “We have been getting better every night out and then we feel like we had one stolen from us tonight. We entered the fourth quarter with a five point advantage in a game where we didn’t play our best, but enough to control it. However we had a pretty lopsided fourth quarter in which allowed them to shoot 21 free throws compared to our 11 in which six came in the last minute of the game. The positive note is that this was a team that beat us by 30 on opening night of the season. The guys are hanging on and fighting to improve every day. We are going to be a tough team with a record that doesn’t portray who we truly are come district time.”
Jimmy Layton had 18 points to lead all scorers for Madison.
For Pilot Grove, Cole Meisenheimer finished the game with 24 while Gavin Shepherd had eight, Bailey Quint five, Anderson Twenter three and Lucas Fahrendorf with two.
The Tigers also hit on 8 of 15 shots from the foul line for 53 percent.