HUGHESVILLE — The Pilot Grove Tigers survived a late Otterville charge to claim the Class 1, District 8 boys basketball title with a 51-46 win on Friday at Northwest High School.
The Tigers led by 16 midway through the fourth quarter before Otterville went on a 17-4 run to cut the lead to 48-45 with one minute left.
But the Tigers sped back down the floor on the following possession and got a layup from Mason Schlotzhauer. After that, Otterville turned the ball over once and missed a pair of free throws and a pair of 3-pointers as Pilot Grove pulled out the win for its first district title since 2010, when it made a run to the Class 1 championship game.
Pilot Grove completed a three-game sweep of the Eagles this season.
“We talked about how Otterville would be ready to play, and they absolutely gave us everything we wanted and more,” said Pilot Grove coach Rick Grunden. “We did some things just slightly differently and they played to Mason. Mason had 29 the first time. They played to him and we gave some kids other looks.”
Otterville got back into the game thanks to 14 fourth-quarter points from Ryan Benny. After a jumper and a layup early in the quarter, he got the rally started with a 3-pointer. After a Jacob Gaskell putback, Benny hit three free throws, then capped the run with a 3-pointer with 1:17 to play.
“We just tried to stay on Benny as much as we could because we knew he was their best player,” said Pilot Grove guard Colton Glenn. “We knew if we just let him go it would be a really close game, which it turned out to be.”
Glenn played a major role in building the Tigers’ lead. He opened the game with a layup and a 3-pointer to make it 5-0. He finished the first quarter with 10 points and finished the game with 19. Three of his baskets in the first half were from 3-point range.
“The basket just seemed huge,” Glenn said. “It just kept falling for me. I was feeling pretty good during shootaround, and thankfully it kept up.”
Pilot Grove took a 24-19 lead into the third quarter and Otterville quickly cut it to three with a Benny layup. But Pilot Grove responded with a 14-1 run on the strength of a Schlotzhauer 3-pointer and six points from Kendall Kraus.
Benny then beat the third-period buzzer with a layup to make it 38-24 Pilot Grove.
The Tigers shot 5 of 10 from the field in the third while Otterville shot 2 of 10, but the Eagles’ shots were falling in the fourth; Otterville hit 7 of 10 during its run.
“That’s just the kind of team we have,” said Otterville coach Jon Tester, whose Eagles won a district title last season. “They’ve been like that the three years I’ve been at Otterville. They never quit, they never say die, and that’s why I’m proud of them.”
Benny finished with 23 points.
Otterville finished the season 17-8. Pilot Grove (22-6) will advance to the sectional round where it will meet the District 7 champion (Drexel or Appleton City) at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Harrisonville.
CLASS 1 SECTIONAL: Pilot Grove vs. District 7 champ
5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Harrisonville