ROYAL CENTER — Pioneer played host to the Maconaquah Braves Thursday night in a non-conference match up in Royal Center.
Coming off back to back games of improved play the Panthers continued the trend. Unfortunately for them, they could only keep up the improved play for 16 of the 32 minutes needed. The result was a 63-39 pasting by the Braves.
The Panthers played a strong first half a trailed just 23-21 going into the break. Once the second half started Pioneer simply ran into a buzzsaw. For whatever reason, Pioneer took steps backwards after taking big strides forward the previous 10 quarters of play. Whether it was fatigue (fourth game in the six days) or the size and experience of the Braves, Pioneer just simply could not compete with the visitors in the second half.
In the opening quarter of play both squads played solidly on the defensive end of the court and baskets proved to be elusive for both teams. With the lead going back and forth it was Maconaquah that was able to slightly pull ahead 11-8 after one quarter of play.
The second quarter saw the Panthers trying to make their move and a basket from the corner by Brad Biggs at the 7:00 mark gave Pioneer a 12-11 lead. Moments later Keith Nies drained one from behind the arc to allow Pioneer to regain a 17-15 lead. After the Nies basket the visitors quickly took a timeout. By the 3:35 mark Pioneer had taken their lead to 21-17. The lead was short-lived as the Braves tied it up at 21-21 with 1:20 left before the half. They hit again with time winding down to take the 23-21 lead into the break.
Then disaster struck for the Panthers. Each Pioneer player in uniform quickly learned about Murphy’s Law. Whatever could go wrong for Pioneer did go wrong. Offensively, shots were not falling when they had them and turnovers prevented Pioneer from getting any kind of rhythm going. Just two minutes into the third quarter the Braves had capped a 10-0 run against the Panthers and were just getting started.