The Pilot Grove Tigers basketball team was both good and lucky Tuesday night on the road against the Jamestown Eagles.
First with the good. While jumping to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, the Tigers also led for the entire game against Jamestown for a 45-42 victory.
As for the lucky, Pilot Grove had to survive a fourth quarter rally by the Eagles to pick up its fifth win of the season in eight ballgames heading into the Christmas break.
“We came out and got the exact start we wanted jumping out to a quick 14-0 run,” said Pilot Grove coach Derek Skaggs. “I am not sure whether we got complacent or just settled after that, but we kind of took a backseat in the second half offensively. I thought our defense stepped up and allowed us to maintain an edge for the remainder of the game, but we can’t rely on that every night out. It was a great win for us against a district opponent as we go into break.
“We get a few days to go back to practice and prepare for a tough New Franklin Tournament. We won’t harp on what our record could be right now and we will use this break to go back and clean up some timing on offense and defense as well as our screen reads. There are many guys playing off the bench for us right now and part of the month of January is figuring out what guys we can count on to be consistent in preparation for February basketball. The remainder of our season is a grind every night out and the CAC action is proving that thus far.”
The Tigers definitely had to grind this one out. Although it would take a miss by Jamestown in the final seconds to keep the game from going into overtime, Pilot Grove pretty much dominated the first half thanks to junior Cole Meisenheimer and sophomore Quint Bailey, who combined for all 18 points in the first quarter and 27 of the team’s 29 points at half.
Bailey wound up finishing the first half with 17 points while Meisenheimer tossed in 10 for the Tigers, who were 11 of 20 from the field after the first two quarters.
Pilot Grove also had two different runs in the first half, which included a 14-0 to start the game and a 7-0 run in the second quarter to lead the push the lead to 13 (25-12) with 1:58 left.
The Tigers also outscored Jamestown 11-7 in the second period to lead 29-16 at the half.
Of course the third and fourth quarter was a different story as Jamestown came out redhot from the field by outscoring Pilot Grove 12-6 to cut the lead to seven at 35-28.
The Tigers also hit just 2 of 11 shots from the field in the third quarter, which is a far cry from the first half.
Jamestown continued to chip away at the lead in the final period while making it a three point ballgame at 37-34 with 3:48 left after reeling off five straight. The Tigers wouldn’t backdown, though. Meisenheimer hit a three to push the lead back up to six at 40-34. Then, after a basket by Cole Higgins, Kealin Vinson hit a two and Quint knocked down two free throws to extend the lead back to eight at 44-36 with 39 seconds remaining.
The Eagles wouldn’t go away, though. A free throw and a three by Gage Reynolds cut the lead back to four at 44-40 with 23 seconds left. Then, after Quint hit 1 of 2 free throws for the Tigers, Jamestown responded again with a basket to make it 45-42.
The Eagles also had a chance in the final seconds after Pilot Grove attempted a long pass on an in-bounds play. However after two Jamestown players collided trying to intercept the ball, the Eagles had no choice but to foul with 7.5 seconds left. Pilot Grove missed the one and one, which left the door open for one final shot by Jamestown. And while the Eagles had a good look from the corner, the shot rimmed in and out as time expired.
Quint finished the game with 20 points while Meisenheimer had 10, Gavin Shepherd and Kealin Vinson four each and Lucas Fahrendorf with two.
For Jamestown, Christian Snyder and Cole Higgins each had nine while Clark Rohrbach chipped in eight.