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The key to Ash Grove’s success in the first quarter was tough defense and the ability to run on transition. The Pirates forced multiple turnovers and converted them into fast break points. Clutch three pointers by Dalton Taylor and Grant Boswell kept it close, but the Pirates owned a convincing 16-10 victory by the end of the first.
Strafford Head Coach Mike Wilson was critical of his teams play in the first quarter.
“We we’re lucky to only be down by six,” said Wilson. “We were careless with the basketball and didn’t get back on defense. I was surprised at the way we came out.”
Strafford took better care of the ball in the second quarter, and the Pirates were not able to score using set offensive plays. Dallas Hester contributed five points and Grant Boswell nailed his second three of the night as the Indians rallied back and took a two point lead to the half, 24-22.
“We were getting winded towards the end of the second quarter,” said Ash Grove Head Coach Jeremy Nicholson.
The Pirates were so fatigued because almost every one of their 22 points in the first half came from a fast break. When Ash Grove would attempt to run a set offensive play, the result was usually a turnover that would give Strafford easy points going the other way.
Strafford outscored the Pirates 20 to 6 in the first six and a half minutes of the third quarter, but Ash Grove had a small resurgence in the final minute and a half. Cody Allhands put up ten points in the quarter and the Pirates scored nine quick points at the very end to keep it close heading into the fourth.
However, Ash Grove could not sustain the rally and was outscored 22 to 10 in the fourth quarter. The Indians celebrated with the large home crowd as they hoisted the first place trophy.
Nicholson saw some positives in his team’s performance.
“Brandon Gravelin gave us some good minutes off of the bench and Garrett Cline was playing really well inside for us,” said Nicholson. “We just have to attack the basket batter. We will learn from it.”
Cline finished with 14 points and Cody Allhands led the team with 18.
Wilson was pleased with his team’s ability to bounce back after a rough first quarter.
“Dalton Taylor was guarding really well and he wasn’t turning the ball over. Kyle Foley has been one of our best players all year long and he showed that tonight,” said Wilson. “Jacob Wade was great inside in the second half. We were able to get it to him inside where he can control things and score.”
Foley finished the night with 20 points while Wade racked up 19.
Ash Grove travels to East Newton on Friday and Strafford travels to Waynesville to take on McCluer North out of St. Louis on Saturday.