The Branson Pirates emerged with a win Tuesday evening in Ozark defeating the Tigers 56-50 in Central Ozark Conference Large Divsiion action. It was a hard-fought battle that could have gone either way.
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS
“You know you’re getting to be a good team when you can grind out games,” said Branson head coach Brian McTague. “There was nothing pretty about this game from an offensive standpoint.”
It was a grind for the Pirates in the first-half. Ozark changed up defenses often and limited the outside scoring opportunities for Branson. The Tigers had a strong 2nd quarter, opening up with four blocked shots on Branson’s first two possessions. The quarter closed with an 8-2 Ozark run, giving the Tigers a 29-23 lead at the half.
Ozark was also taken out of rhythm as starters Noah Nelson and Tyler Clanton got in early foul trouble. Tigers coach Steve Hunter said that Korbin Evans made a big difference for Ozark in the first-half.
“Korbin had 14 points (on 6 of 9 shooting) while almost everyone else had only one or two baskets,” said Hunter.
Evans finished with 16 points for Ozark.
Things turned around for Branson in the second-half. The Pirates limited the Tigers scoring chances and capitalized on 12 Ozark turnovers. Branson took the lead late in the 3rd quarter and never gave it back.
“In the third quarter we got some transition baskets and ran the floor a little bit,” said Branson senior Thatch Unruh. “We got to the short corner in the second-half and got some good baskets.”
The Pirates’ lead grew to nine points with 3:03 left in the fourth quarter. The Tigers had one last offensive burst as Nick Cookingham knocked down three consecutive three-point bombs. Brett Krisik added another trey to close the gap to three points with 1:13 left in the game.
In the 4th quarter, Branson’s Unruh went 9-for-10 from the free throw line to help seal the victory. Unruh finished with 18 points along with junior Da’Quan Ervin.
Ozark falls to 11-10 on the season and 1-2 in the conference. They face Neosho at home on Friday. Branson will play Webb City at home Friday and raise its record to 15-6 overall and 3-0 in conference.
1 2 3 4 F
Branson 14 9 14 19 56
Ozark 11 18 7 14 50
Branson: Daniels, 4; Ervin, 18; Hall, 4; Russell, 11; Unruh, 18.
Ozark: Carmichael, 5; Clanton, 2; Cookinham, 12; Evans, 16; Krisik, 8; Nelson, 3; Neidig, 4.