by Rick Conrad
For the Pharos-Tribune
ROYAL CENTER —
Pioneer boys basketball coach Pat Skaggs was concerned about the athleticism of West Central entering Friday night’s game in Royal Center. It didn’t take long for Skaggs to see that he had some pretty good athletes on his team, too, as the Panthers easily turned away the Trojans 74-36.
The Panthers improved to 9-3 and 3-0 in the Midwest Conference. West Central dropped to 4-9 and 1-3.
The intensity by each team was evident early, but with the score tied at 4-4, the Panthers simply shifted their game into a higher gear. Pioneer went on an 18-0 run behind some bulls-eye shooting from Carter Skaggs and some very sticky defensive play. By the time the quarter ended the Trojans were dazed and on the ropes with the Panthers holding a commanding 24-9 lead.
“Fortunately for us we were able to get out to a quick start and make some shots early. But I really think the key to the game was our halfcourt defense was probably as solid as I’ve seen it all year,” Pat Skaggs said.
Pioneer turned up the defense even more in the second frame and the Trojans had difficulty getting looks at the basket. When they did get a quick look their shots just weren’t falling. Pioneer, on the other hand, opened the quarter with a 8-0 run to bump the lead to 32-9. West Central halted the Panther run at the 4:14 mark with their first points of the quarter. Back-to-back baskets by Pioneer big man Clayton Harvey forced the Trojans into taking a time out down 38-11. Going into the halftime break Pioneer was way ahead and showing no signs of a let-up leading 41-17.
When play resumed in the second half, the Panthers continued their dominating play. Brandon Scruggs and Matt Dorris began heating up on the offensive end of the floor while the Pioneer defense continued to be suffocating. At the 5:52 mark of the third Carter Skaggs showed the Pioneer faithful another part of his game with a breakaway dunk that brought the locals to their feet. West Central continued to struggle by scoring just four points in the quarter. Pioneer went on to a comfortable 59-21 lead entering the final quarter of play.
Things went from bad to worse for the Trojans when starter Michael Hamilton fouled out at the 6:31 mark. Pioneer started to empty its bench with nearly five minutes left after Carter Skaggs was fouled hard on a dunk attempt. With the reserves in the contest for the last half of the fourth the Panthers went on to the 74-36 win.
“We’ve got a great group of kids on this team. We’ve got a strong group of seniors and tonight, they all played the way we’re capable of playing. They just hustled and played hard and good things happen when they play like that,” added Pat Skaggs.
Pioneer finished the game with three players in double figures. The Panthers were led by Carter Skaggs with a game-high 31 points behind five made from long distance. Scruggs finished with 12 while Dorris chipped in 10. “The credit has to go to the guys on my team for finding me when I was open and for setting some great screens to free me up,” said Carter Skaggs. “West Central lost some good players to graduation and are kind of rebuilding this year, but we played pretty good tonight.”
W. Central 47, Pioneer 23
For the second game in a row turnovers were the downfall for the Lady Panthers (5-12, 2-4 MWC).
Sarah Dorris led Pioneer with seven points. Mati DeWitt had five and Gabby Dunlap chipped in four.