Tigers win 71-52 over Prairie Home in opening round of Class 1 District 9 Tournament
For one brief moment Monday night in the opening round of the Class 1 District 9 Tournament, Pilot Grove coach Derek Skaggs was thinking “here we go again” after Prairie Home with Bunceton had the lead down to four early in the third quarter.
It’s not that Skaggs didn’t have confidence in his team winning the game, it’s just that the Tigers have had so many close games this season decided by single digits.
Of course that mattered little after Pilot Grove outscored Prairie Home by nine in the final period for a 71-52 victory.
The Tigers, improving to 10-14 on the season, will play top-seeded Leeton on Wednesday, starting at 6 p.m.
Prairie Home closed out the season at 9-11 overall.
Skaggs said he never felt comfortable with the lead even though the Tigers led Prairie Home 20-6 after one and 34-27 at the half.
“We’ve had six or seven games this year, where we’ve done that,” Skaggs said. “We had this conversation the other day, where we had the lead but couldn’t close it out in the fourth quarter. But the main thing is that we get to play again. The last two years we’ve had trouble getting past the semifinal round, and we will have our hands full again on Wednesday, but triumphs like this will give them a boost to move forward. Leeton is tough and very well coached and have a Hall of Famer in Rick Mills.
“They are going to be tough. We faced them last year and they are the same exact team except they are now seniors like us. We beat them in our tournament semifinal two years ago when we won the title, so we know what we have to do against them because they are going to shoot the ball really well. We can’t allow them to have second opportunities because that will give us a chance.”
The shots were definitely falling early for the Tigers in the first quarter while Prairie Home struggled with just three field goals.
Of course it didn’t hurt that Pilot Grove opened the game on a 6-0 run or that the Tigers outscored Prairie Home 10-2 in the final two minutes and 13 seconds to go up 20-6.
Senior Hayden Krumm also had the hot hand early for Pilot Grove with 12 of the team’s 20 points.
Prairie Home coach Trever Huth said his team came out flat from the start. “At the end of the first quarter we dug ourselves in a hole,” Huth said. “We climbed back out of it in the second quarter by rebounding better and picking it up on the defensive end.”
The momentum also flipped jerseys in the second quarter. Up by 14 after one, the Tigers finally found themselves in a ballgame in the second quarter as Prairie Home rallied back with a 21-14 advantage to cut the lead to seven at 34-27.
Senior Blane Petsel also willed the Panthers comeback with 11 of the team’s 21 points-which included two three-pointers and a three point play.
But was it enough to get Prairie Home back in the game?
A three to start the third quarter by Petsel allowed the Panthers to stay within striking distance down by only four at 34-30.
Unfortunately for Prairie Home, the Tigers came back with a 7-0 run right after that on back to back baskets by senior Bailey Quint and a three-point play by Luke Kollmeyer to push the lead back up to 10 at 40-30 with 6:08 left.
Pilot Grove also outscored Prairie Home 15-12 in the third quarter to go up 49-39.
Although the lead ballooned to 11 at one point in the third, Prairie Home was still able to find its way back while cutting the lead to six (51-45) after a basket by Petsel with 6:09 left in the game.
However, it was pretty much all Pilot Grove after that as the Tigers went on a 10-0 run in a little over two minutes to extend the lead to 17 at 62-45. The Panthers never got any closer than 15 for the rest of the game as Pilot Grove held a 11-7 advantage in the final two minutes.
Pilot Grove also outscored Prairie Home 22-13 in the fourth.
Skaggs said he thought the team really took the next step in the second half. “We’ve been talking about how do we find that next step when somebody really comes at us,” Skaggs said. “How do we punch on through and find the next gear. It takes all of our guys. We’ve played nine all year, and it’s tough, but at the end of the day, we want everybody to be prepared because consistency has been a problem for us.”
Huth said the Panthers were up and down in the second half. “We got confident shooting the ball and then we went cold,” Huth said. “It was too little too late by then. We had a good year, though. We had a lot of ups and downs, but the boys never gave up and I’m proud of every single one of them.”
Hayden Krumm led three players in double figures for Pilot Grove with 28 points. Bailey Quint tallied 18 while Bo Vinson added 11, Dalton Reuter six, Luke Kollmeyer four and Dade Christy and Seth Blumhorst each with two.
As for the scoring in the game for Prairie Home, Petsel had 22, Dillon Alpers and Hunter Shuffield 11 each, Talon Benne and Peyton Pitts each with three and Oliver Lock with two.