by David Gregorich
For the Pharos-Tribune
ROYAL CENTER —
Pioneer’s boys basketball team is ranked for the first time in nine years.
Rival Lewis Cass did its best to knock the Panthers back out of the rankings.
The Kings recorded a 51-48 win at Class A No. 7 Pioneer Friday night in their annual rivalry contest.
Cass big men Ryan Aldridge and Jordan Miller each recorded 15 points and six rebounds to lead the Kings (6-3) to their fourth straight victory.
“You have to give credit to the team,” Aldridge said. “Our guards did a great job driving in and finding us for good shots.”
Cass snapped Pioneer’s seven-game winning streak. Also for the Kings, Blake Hadley scored 11 points, Austin Keisling had six and Owen Ohman and David Watterson chipped in two apiece.
The Kings’ main focus was defense going into the game.
“We knew we would have to slow down their guards, and I think Watterson and Ohman played a great game defensively,” Cass coach Jon Kitchel said. “Pioneer is a very good basketball team. To be able to go there a get a win is huge for us. I think we played great as a team and that was the big key in this game.”
There was a big crowd on hand that made for a great atmosphere for the cross-county rivalry.
After a back-and-forth first quarter that ended with the teams tied at 12 points apiece, the Kings’ aggressive defense started disrupting the Panthers’ shooting and left Pioneer (8-3) trailing 29-22 at the half.
“You’ve got to give credit to Lewis Cass, they were well coached and prepared. They came out aggressive and played harder than we did in the first half,” Pioneer coach Pat Skaggs said.
The third quarter was a battle inside, as Pioneer senior Matt Dorris scored 10 points in the paint trying to revive the Panthers. But at the other end, Miller and Aldridge scored nine apiece inside to keep the Kings ahead after three, 40-32.
Pioneer was able to get things going in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Kings 16-11, but the late surge wasn’t enough as the Panthers fell short on a last-second 3-point attempt.
Pioneer was led by Dorris, who finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with four rebounds and two blocked shots. Also in double figures was sophomore Carter Skaggs, who added 10 points. Brandon Scruggs had nine points, three assists and two steals.
“I think we waited too long to get things going and we didn’t do enough of the little things that really good teams do, but I thought we had some positive things to build off as well,” Pat Skaggs said. “Matt Dorris played great and I thought our bench was able to come in and give us some valuable minutes. We will have to become more consistent and better at those small things in order to keep getting better as the season continues.”
Cass travels to Logansport tonight.