Bulldogs pull away in fourth quarter for 84-66 win
For the first 24 minutes of the game Friday night against Sturgeon, the Pilot Grove boys basketball team stood toe to toe with the Bulldogs down by only seven.
However in the fourth quarter, which is the one quarter that has plagued the Tigers all season, Pilot Grove couldn’t seem to buy enough baskets while Sturgeon matched its highest quarter of the ballgame with 25 points en route to a 84-66 victory.
While the loss dropped Pilot Grove to 1-20 on the season and 0-8 in the CAC conference, head coach Derek Skaggs said the guys came out and played great for the first three quarters.
“Our combination of guys on the floor no matter who was on the court was better than previous nights,” Skaggs said. “This is good to see because we need to get guys a chance to rest without missing a beat on the court. However, late in the third and into the fourth we let turnovers and missed opportunities at the basket spread the score out on us.
“When you start to do those things against really good teams it doesn’t turn out very well. One great thing about this conference that I appreciate is, it teaches our kids that they have to play every possession. There can not be any physical or mental breaks while on the court or the ball will find you.”
The Tigers definitely gave it everything they had, especially early on while trailing Sturgeon 25-20 after the first eight minutes of the ballgame.
While it didn’t help that Pilot Grove started the game 0 for 3 from the field, they did turn a eight point deficit into a two-point game at 13-11 after capping off a 6-0 run with 3:41 left.
But just when you thought the Tigers were close to turning the corner, Sturgeon came back and reeled off six straight to extend the lead back to eight at 19-11 with 2:23 remaining.
Pilot Grove outscored Sturgeon 9-6 for the rest of the quarter but still trailed by five at 25-20.
The second quarter was also back and forth, with Pilot Grove cutting the lead to three on four different occasions at 25-22, 31-28, 36-33 and 41-38.
Sturgeon outscored Pilot Grove again in the second 19-18 to lead at the half by a score of 44-38.
However the one shot that typified the entire game for Pilot Grove came in the closing second of the half after sophomore Cole Meisenheimer buried a three with 4 seconds left only to have Jake Snider come back on the other end with a shot at the buzzer.
The third quarter was just as close as the first two as Sturgeon held a 15-14 advantage to go up by seven at 59-52. But give credit where credit is due as the Tigers trailed by as much as 12 at 52-42 only to close the game with a 10-7 run for the rest of the period.
Unfortunately for Pilot Grove, they never got any closer in the ballgame as Sturgeon opened the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run over a two minute stretch to extend the lead to 19 at 71-52 with 5:50 left.
Pilot Grove never got any closer than 16 points for the rest of the game while Sturgeon led by as much as 20 on three different occasions at 76-56, 78-58 and 80-60.
Sturgeon also outscored Pilot Grove 25-14 in the fourth.
Kenny Stone paced all scorers in the game for Sturgeon with 37 points while Jake Snider chipped in 11.
For Pilot Grove, Bailey Quint and Lucas Fahrendorf each had 14 while Cole Meisenheimer chipped in 13 and Gavin Shepherd 12 to complete the double figure scoring.
Anderson Twenter tossed in nine points while Cole Mize added six.
For the game, the Tigers also hit on 8 of 12 shots from the foul line for 67 percent.
After Monday’s game at home against the New Franklin Bulldogs, the Pilot Grove boys and girls will be on the road for two games on Friday, Feb. 9th at Cairo and Tuesday, Feb. 13th at Slater. Both games will start at 6 p.m. Then, to closeout the season, Pilot Grove will host Cairo on Feb. 15th at 6 p.m.