By Matt Goisman
PITTSBURG — Missed shots by both the Kiowa Cowboys and Pittsburg Panthers kept Tuesday’s game close at halftime.
The second half belonged to Kiowa.
The Cowboys outscored the Panthers by 18 in the second half, allowing Kiowa to get the 61-39 win Tuesday at a packed Dee Foster Gymnasium in Pittsburg.
“We got to where we were attacking the basket a lot more,” Kiowa coach Keith Quaid said. “When we get some easy looks around the basket, then that just makes us relax a little more on the perimeter.”
Through the first half the Cowboys settled for far too many jump shots, pulling up at the high post instead of trying to drive inside. Though Kiowa’s first two baskets in the third quarter came on 3-pointers by Shay Calvert, other guards driving all the way to the basket opened up those shots.
“We came to the game unfocused and really unprepared,” Calvert said.
“We really just lost focus, and we had to get back, just fight back into it and get right back into where we need to be.”
Calvert scored 13 for the Cowboys. His second 3-pointer put Kiowa up 30-20, and though Kyle Shields quickly answered with a 3-pointer for Pittsburg, the Panthers missed their next shot, the Cowboys went on a fastbreak and Caden Shores found Tristian McMath for a layup and a 32-23 Kiowa lead.
Just like its offense, Kiowa’s defense improved considerably in the third quarter. As soon as a Pittsburg guard crossed the halfcourt line, at least one Cowboy swarmed in and began pressuring the ball, leading to multiple turnovers.
Following one such turnover, Calvert found center Brice Smith for a jumper and a 34-23 Kiowa lead. Kiowa then picked off a pass on Pittsburg’s next possession, and Calvert got it to Clay Doyle for the fastbreak score and a 36-23 lead.
“We switched between our man and our zone, and played with a little more intensity,” Quaid said of the second half.
“We didn’t show a lot of intensity in the first half. Pittsburg really came out and played well. They shot the ball and really took it to us. They were the more aggressive team in the first half, and it showed. I thought we settled down a little bit better in the second half and played a little better.”
Shawn Luman’s jumper pulled Pittsburg to within 11, but on the opposite end Cody Wren hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 39-25 Kiowa after three quarters. Wren gave the Cowboys several solid minutes off the bench Tuesday, playing smart defense and knocking down two 3-pointers.
“He really kind of sparked us,” Quaid said of Wren. “Got us a little farther distanced away from them, and I thought he did a great job.
“He’s a pretty good shooter. He comes in off the bench, he knows his role, he looks to shoot the ball, and he has a pretty good shooting stroke.”
Kiowa extended its lead with a strong start to the fourth quarter, outscoring Pittsburg 13-2 before emptying the Cowboys’ bench. Doyle and McMath hit 3-pointers in the fourth, Smith and Brycen Overton both put back offensive rebounds for baskets, and McMath scored on a fastbreak despite getting fouled to make it 52-27 Cowboys.
Smith finished with 11 points, Overton with 10 and McMath with 7. Luman led the Panthers with 10.
Luman’s 3-pointer gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead early in the first, but the Cowboys answered on a layup by Smith and then a 3-pointer by
Overton that made it 5-3 Kiowa. Pittsburg kept the game close the entire first half, with Bradley Barron drawing a foul on a layup and sinking the free throw to cut Kiowa’s lead to 12-10.
But while forwards like Barron and Ethan Thomason could set up in the post and grab offensive rebounds, the Panthers just couldn’t score consistently enough to hang with the Cowboys.
“We just couldn’t finish,” Pittsburg coach Wes Wood said. “That’s our biggest thing right now. You get that little four-foot shot, you better finish it when you get the opportunity.”
Wood added, “I was overall pleased with the boys. We competed tonight. We competed against a very good team.”
With the win, Kiowa improved to 3-1. Pittsburg fell to 1-4.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.