Scott scores 11 to lead balanced Pioneer
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
ARGOS — Michael Richard scored nine of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, and J.J. Morris added 12 points to lead the Argos boys basketball team to a 54-47 win over Pioneer at Phil Weybright Gymnasium Saturday.
Pioneer led 42-39 with just under seven minutes left after Oscar Solano got an offensive rebound off his own missed free throw and scored on a scoop layup, but Argos answered with a 15-3 spurt to decide the game.
Christian Scott led Pioneer with 11 points in the loss. Solano and Drew McKaig had nine points each, and Gavin Clem, Brock Robinson and Jacob Zeigler had six points each.
Argos won their sixth straight game since a season-opening loss to Bremen. Pioneer lost their fifth straight game since a season-opening win over Logansport.
Argos has won four of the last five meetings against Pioneer.
Neither team led by more than four points through the first three quarters.
After Solano’s basket, Richard answered on the ensuing possession with a 3-pointer from the right corner.
As it turned out, Morris’ turnaround jumper with 5:15 left put Argos ahead for good at 44-42.
McKaig split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one, but Richard pierced Pioneer’s 2-3 zone, taking a pass in the high post and driving for a layup. Another Richard short layup in the paint got the lead to five.
“I give him a lot of credit because he just figured out the zone,” Argos first-year coach Jason Breden said. “He realized if he catches it in the middle, it’s like a man-to-man. One guy steps up on them, and he takes it strong and gets to the bucket. … He figured out a way to win.”
In Pioneer’s 2-3 zone, Robinson, a 5-7 senior guard, plays in the middle of the back row. Richard, who is Argos’ 6-0 senior point guard, positioned himself at the high post. Once he caught the ball in the foul line area, he was able to score over Robinson.
“Zone defenses, the main thing they do is they just get guys rattled,” Breden said. “They think they can’t attack it, but the biggest thing I tell my guys is it’s similar to a man-to-man. You still have a guy guarding the ball. Sure, there’s a lot of help side, but sometimes you just have to catch the ball with poise and not get too psyched out with the zone.”
Scott put back his own miss with 1:15 left to make it 48-45, but Morris, Richard and Jake Stults all made two free throws within a 24-second span in the final minute to extend the lead to nine.
Stults contributed eight points. Dylan Kindig had six points and five rebounds.
Argos made 10 of 12 free throws, and the two misses came with 14.5 seconds left and Argos up by nine.
McKaig, a 6-0 sophomore who is Pioneer’s leading returning scorer from last year, was guarded by the 6-6 Morris. McKaig scored 18 points in a 55-48 loss to LaVille one day earlier, but Morris held him to single digits this time.
One of McKaig’s field goals was a 27-footer for 3 at the third quarter buzzer.
Morris called Drew McKaig “crafty and quick.”
“Through execution,” Morris said when asked how Argos was able to pull the game out. “Just what Coach has been teaching us in practice and doing the things he said. We luckily just made a few more plays than they did and pulled away in the end.”
Pioneer plays a four-out offense in addition to their 2-3 zone defense. The four-out relies on the big men being able to step outside and relieve any defensive pressure. Both the 6-2 Solano and the 6-3 Zeigler, Pioneer’s two tallest players, could handle the ball on the perimeter and on the inside.
Pioneer coach Darren McKaig said his team “got a little tense” in the fourth quarter and said the ball movement on offense wasn’t “timed out as well.” However, he said the balanced scoring was a good sign.
“I do like that,” coach McKaig said. “Because then, who do you key on? We have to have multiple guys scoring. The past couple years, we haven’t really had that. So I’m pretty happy with it.”
Drew McKaig’s first 3-pointer tied the game at 31 with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
Morris found Richard for a cutting layup and then hit two free throws, but Pioneer broke an Argos press with a Clem triple.
Richard scored on a cutting layup before Drew McKaig’s buzzer beating 3-pointer.
Robinson scored on a driving layup eight seconds into the fourth quarter before Kindig tied it at 39. It was one of only three field goals for Kindig.
“I thought it was pretty effective against their big man inside Kindig,” coach McKaig said. “He only had six points. We want to stop the easiest baskets first, but we did give up some corner 3s, and we did give up some drives to Richard. I wish we could have kept Richard down a little more.”
Solano was fouled in the act of shooting with 7:01 left and hit the first free throw to give Pioneer the lead again.
Argos went 4-0 on its homestand. Its next three games – conference tilts against Trinity Greenlawn and Bethany Christian and a nonconference game at North Miami – are all on the road.
This game started a stretch of eight straight nonconference games for Pioneer. They won’t play another conference game until they travel to Caston on Jan. 28.
Argos 54, Pioneer 47
PIONEER (47) (1-5)
Brock Robinson 3 0-0 6, Drew McKaig 3 1-2 9, Christian Scott 3 5-7 11, Oscar Solano 4 1-2 9, Jacob Zeigler 2 2-2 6, Gavin Clem 2 0-0 6, Brayden Erickson 0 0-0 0, Caleb Sweet 0 0-0 0
TEAM: 17 9-13 47
ARGOS (54) (6-1)
Michael Richard 8 3-3 20, Jake Stults 2 2-2 8, J.J. Morris 3 5-5 12, Teddy Redinger 1 0-2 3, Dylan Kindig 3 0-0 6, Kayden Brady 1 0-0 3, Sean Richard 1 0-0 2
TEAM: 19 10-12 54
Three-point field goals:
Pioneer 4 (McKaig 2, Clem 2),
Argos 6 (Stults 2, M. Richard, Morris, Brady, Redinger)
Total fouls: Pioneer 16, Argos 10
Fouled out: Scott (PIO), :14.3, fourth
Turnovers: Pioneer 9, Argos 13
Score by quarters
Pioneer 11 12 14 10 – 47
Argos 12 12 13 17 – 54