After a lethargic first quarter which saw the Pilot Grove Tigers jump out to a 11-0 lead, New Franklin boys basketball coach Ross Dobson had seen enough.
To make a point to his players that this wasn’t going to be tolerated, Dobson benched the starters for the next five off the bench.
As it turned out, the players got the message and then some while rallying from as much as 13 down to beat the Tigers 55-44.
The win improved New Franklin’s record to 10-4 overall and 3-1 in the CAC while Pilot Grove fell to 7-6 overall and 2-2 in league play.
“We started off pretty sluggish, but got things turned around in the second quarter,” Dobson said. “I am pleased that the boys didn’t quit fighting until the last buzzer. They found some energy in the second quarter and really brought it to a good Pilot Grove team. We will need to continue to bring the same effort every night in conference.”
That effort was missing early on as the Tigers came out and reeled off 11 straight points before the move by Dobson to sit his starters. Luckily for the Bulldogs, they were still in the ballgame down by only 13 (19-6) after first period’s end.
Pilot Grove coach Derek Skaggs said the boys came out with a nice first quarter but the scoring went stagnant in the second quarter as well as the second half.
“They made defensive adjustments and we never got comfortable with our attack versus it,” Skaggs said. “We made unforced turnovers which ultimately takes away possessions at our offensive end of the court. We also quit getting stops like we did in the first quarter. You combine those two items and it makes for a struggling offensive night. Like I told the kids, you don’t know when you are going to get opportunities to practice or play with the weather the way it has been, but you still have to come out mentally prepared. We are winding down to our last four weeks of basketball season and it’s all about chemistry this time of the year.”
The tides also turned in the second quarter, with the Tigers going into a huge slump by hitting only 3 of 10 shots from the field. Add it up and it’s no wonder the Bulldogs outscored Pilot Grove 17-7 to cut the lead to three at 26-23 at the break.
New Franklin also outscored Pilot Grove 10-2 over the final three minutes and 31 seconds to make it a three point ballgame at the half.
The Bulldogs carried the momentum from the second quarter into the second half by taking their first lead at the 4:03 mark on a basket by sophomore Tysen Dowell to make it 32-31. Meanwhile, after playing to two ties after that at 32-32 and 34-all, New Franklin came back and scored the final five points of the third quarter to lead the Tigers by five at 39-34.
The Bulldogs also outscored Pilot Grove 16-8 in the third period.
With three quarters in the books and five points separating New Franklin and Pilot Grove, the Tigers drew first blood in the final period on a basket by junior Cole Meisenheimer to cut the lead to three at 39-36. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they never got any closer in the ballgame as New Franklin went on a 8-0 run to stretch the lead to 11 at 47-36 with 5:52 left. The Bulldogs also held a 16-10 advantage in the final period to win by 11.
Tyler Perkins led all scorers for New Franklin with 17 points while Gavin Bishop tossed in nine, Tysen Dowell seven, Carter Bailey and Jackson Dorson six each and Tre’ Cowans and Kolby Anson each with four points.
For Pilot Grove, Bailey Quint finished the game with 15 points while Cole Meisenheimer added 12, Gavin Shepherd nine, Lucas Fahrendorf and Kealin Vinson each with three and Dorsan Hern with two.