By Matt Goisman
KIOWA — The Savanna Bulldogs showed some strength, so the Kiowa Cowboys made the game about speed.
From point guard Clay Doyle to center Brice Smith, the Cowboys were just too fast for the Bulldogs.
Doyle and Smith each scored 18 points, leading the Cowboys to a 66-33 win against the Bulldogs on Friday in Kiowa.
“That’s always our gameplan, just to push the ball and (have) up-tempo offense,” Doyle said.
“That’s what it’s going to take for us to have success, is Brice to get touches, and if he’s double-teamed, kick it back out.”
Already up 16-7 heading into the second quarter, the Cowboys outscored the Bulldogs by 10 to basically put the game away at halftime. Brycen Overton came up with a steal on Savanna’s opening possession of the second, and on the opposite end he hit a pull-up 3-pointer to make it 19-7.
Savanna missed its next shot, then Doyle found Overton for another 3-pointer. Savanna then turned over its next two possessions, both of which led to layups from Doyle that made it 26-7 Cowboys.
“We wanted to pick it up early, because we felt like they didn’t have a lot of bench to come in to help them,” Kiowa coach Keith Quaid said. “We wanted to push the pace a little bit, maybe get their starters a little bit winded. That’s when we really sparked it, in the second quarter. We got more transition buckets, picked up our pressure full-court, and that was the difference for the rest of the ballgame.”
Kris Perry, who scored 19 for Savanna, scored on a layup to end Kiowa’s run, but Doyle found Tristian McMath for a 3-pointer. Perry scored again, this time hitting a 3-pointer, but Jonny Allen hit two free throws for Kiowa, then took an inbounds pass from Caden Shores and floated it in to make it 33-12.
“They took us out of what we were trying to do defensively,” Savanna coach Brian Brown said.
“I knew it would be hard to play them in a zone. Playing a man defense right now is not our strength.”
After a free throw from Jake Murdaugh, Smith grabbed a loose ball and scored. Perry later put back an offensive rebound, but Smith did the same on Kiowa’s next possession to make it 37-15 Kiowa.
Perry knocked down one last jump shot for Savanna, but Doyle ran off most of the 30 seconds remaining in the half before getting it to Smith in the post. Smith banked one in as the half expired, putting Kiowa up 39-17.
“Usually they tend to play to my left side, but it really didn’t matter,” Smith said. “I’m always stronger to my left, but I still feel pretty confident with my right.”
Kiowa’s dominance continued in the third quarter. Doyle knocked down a 3-pointer, then a Kiowa steal led to a score off an offensive rebound by Overton.
Smith sank a free throw, then Doyle turned a steal into a layup and a 47-17 Cowboys lead.
“He’s had really three or four good ballgames in a row,” Quaid said of Doyle. “He’s just getting more confidence every time he’s out here, and I thought he was a catalyst for us tonight.”
Savanna scored 4 points in a row — a rarity Friday — with Ryan Weeks and Tanner Brown both scoring. But Smith scored off a pass from McMath, then later scored off a pass from Shay Calvert put the Cowboys up 53-25.
Kiowa went on to score 5 of the quarter’s final 7 points, with Doyle hitting a layup and Overton knocking down two free throws. Overton finished with 14 points.
“Beating a zone, you have to make that perimeter shot,” Quaid said. “We were making them early, so it made them have to play us man-to-man. Our shooting ability benefited us big time against that zone.”
Kiowa got off to a fast start, with Overton coming up with a steal and turning it into a fastbreak layup. Kiowa opened the game 4-0, and after Perry knocked down a 3-pointer, Doyle and Calvert knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers.
Smith added a layup and Doyle sank another 3-pointer later in the first to make it 15-6 Cowboys.
“I’ve been in a slump lately and I hadn’t been making much, so it felt good to make one,” Doyle said.
Beating a team it could see again in this week’s Pitt 8 Tournament, Kiowa improved to 13-3. Savanna fell to 3-6.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.