The Pilot Grove Lady Tigers basketball team hoped the third time was a charm Tuesday night in a Class 1 Sectional game against Community R-6.
After losing to the Lady Trojans twice during the regular season (50-34 in the New Franklin Tournament on January 5th and 82-53 in a conference game  on February 1), Pilot Grove also knew the slate was clean and that anything could happen going into the sectional game at Sturgeon High School.
However a huge third quarter propelled the Lady Trojans past Pilot Grove by a score of 64-43.
“We worked so hard in the first half,” said Pilot Grove coach Linda Scott. “Our gameplan worked so well in the first half. We forced them 25 feet from the basketball in the second half. You would think that was a good plan, but Community just started hitting 25 foot shots with us in their face. They could not miss in the third quarter. We never gave up and kept fighting.
“Chloe Schlotzhauer had a wonderful last game of her career. Emily Schupp had someone in her face all game. They did now allow her to get the ball a lot,  but she was fouled a lot and made 15 of 19 free throws to finish the game with 22 points. Emily moved and played so physical inside to score. All of the girls played hard defense. We lost to a better team and that is the bottom line tonight. We have played them three times this season and each game was a battle from start to finish. Community had to work very hard to win this game. We’ve hard a dream season this year and I am so super proud of these Lady Tigers.”
While closing out the season at 20-7 overall, the Lady Tigers gave Community R-6 everything they wanted and more in the half while trailing by one at 27-26.
Although Community R-6 led by as much as nine in the first quarter, Pilot Grove was still able to keep the game close down 15-8 at the end of one despite hitting just 1 of 10 shots from the field and committing seven turnovers.
The Lady Trojans also wanted to speed up the game, which is more to their style instead of a slow paced game.
Of course Community R-6 didn’t count on seniors Emily Schupp or Chloe Schlotzhauer getting hot at the same time in the second quarter. While the Lady Tigers outscored Community 18-12 in the period, Schupp and Schlotzhauer each scored nine points for all of the teams points. Schlotzhauer also hit two big three in the quarter as Pilot Grove led by as much as four at 26-22 with two minutes left. However a 5-0 run over the final minute and 48 seconds brought the Lady Trojans back to lead by one at the break.
The second half was pretty much all Community R-6 as the Lady Trojans outscored Pilot Grove 29-9 to lead by 21 at 56-35. While hitting a total of seven threes in the period, junior Natalie Thomas had four treys and 14 points in the quarter while junior Delaney Bowers had three threes for nine points.
Schlotzhauer had the only three in the third quarter for Pilot Grove, which cut the lead to eight at 40-32 with 3:41 left.
The Lady Tigers never got any closer as Community R-6 matched Pilot Grove with eight points in the final period and closed out the game on a 6-0 run to win by 21.
Thomas finished the game with 26 points for Community, 17 of which came in the first half. Bowers had 15 points in the game with 13 coming in the final two periods.
For Pilot Grove, Schupp and Schlotzhauer combined for 40 of the team’s 43 points. Schupp finished the game with 22 points, seven rebounds, four steals and one block shot while Schlotzhauer had 18 points, six rebounds and one assist. Melanie Wolfe chipped in two points and one rebound while Grace Phillips added one point, five assists, three rebounds and two steals, Natalie Rentel four rebounds and one steal, Abby Schupp two assists and Natalie Glenn with one rebound.
Community R-6 will advance to the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on Saturday, March 2nd at Salisbury High School. The Lady Trojans will play Green City starting at 2:45 p.m.
In the boys quarterfinal game at Salisbury, Wellsville will face Linn City starting at 1 p.m.