By Kyle Smith
Democrat Sports Editor
PILOT GROVE — Hayden Doane kept the Green Ridge Tigers afloat in the first half Saturday.
Axton Harding helped the Tigers pull away in the second half to beat Stover 60-47 in the weather-delayed third-place game of the Pilot Grove boys basketball tournament.
The game was originally scheduled to be played Dec. 14.
Doane scored all of his 12 points in the first half where the Bulldogs used their passing game to counter Green Ridge’s full-court pressure.
“Without him tonight, I don’t know if we would have won this game,” Green Ridge coach Jason Ollison said. “He was the only one in the first half who came with any energy.”
Doane said, “We played a hard game the other night (Friday night at Smithton), and we looked like we were worn out. We just had to keep the pressure up and give heart. It was a good team win.”
The Tigers (5-5) led 13-10 after one quarter behind five points by Hunter Niceswander, who finished with 16, and five by Doane. Leading scorer, Garrett Goetze, scored 10 of his 18 points in the first half.
Doane made two free throws, drove the baseline for a layup and sank a 3-pointer, as the Tigers held on to a 22-20 lead at halftime.
“I was very impressed with how Stover handled the pressure, especially early on when they had their legs under them,” Ollison said. “I thought they did a wonderful job of taking care of the ball and moving it on us and putting us in a tight spot. They moved it up the floor well with the pass. We want to trap dribbles. When they don’t dribble, it’s hard for us to trap.”
In the third quarter, Conner Dillon made two 3-pointers, and Josh Tylar made one, and the Tigers pulled ahead by as many as 14 twice. Harding scored seven of game-high 17 points in the third, and they led 42-31. Stover’s Jordan French ended the quarter on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Green Ridge made 5 of 6 free throws in the fourth, Harding scored eight points and Niceswander added six, including a 3-pointer that pushed the Tigers’ lead to 15 (58-43) near the two-minute mark.
Brock Nolting scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter for Stover, which never came closer than nine in the period.
“We talked about it at halftime,” Ollison said of picking up the pace of the game in the second half. “We needed this game up the 60s or 70s. We just weren’t equipped to play a half-court game. With that Goetze kid in the middle, we don’t have anything that can stop that.We did a good job of getting up and down the floor and wearing him out.”