By SEAN McCARRELL
(BUFFALO, Mo., digitalBURG) – The Warrensburg Tigers used a fast start to propel themselves to their first victory of the season Monday night, as they defeated the Buffalo Bison 81-38 and took their first victory of the Buffalo Tournament.
The Tigers came out firing, turning defense into offense. They stymied the Bison with a full-court, man-to-man defense, recording steals at a frantic pace, and opening up a 32-8 lead by the end of the period.
Junior guard Dakota Jones paced the Tigers in scoring with 15 of the team’s 32 first-quarter points.
“Dakota’s the key,” said Tigers head coach Chris Nimmo. “He is what makes our offense go, and he really played well that first half.”
While Jones was held in check during the second quarter, scoring just six points and drawing double teams for much of the time, the other Tigers stepped up in a big way. The Tigers continued their superior defensive play in the quarter, and even added some hot outside shooting.
Sophomore guard Dustin Dye buried back-to-back three pointers midway through the quarter to put the game further out of reach for the Bison.
“Dakota is no doubt going to get the other team’s best defender every night,” Nimmo said. “So then it’s going to be up to the guys around him to knock down shots, and they did that tonight.”
The Tigers fell back into a half-court defense late in the frame, but continued to put pressure on Buffalo. At halftime, the Tigers lead 46-19. Jones finished the half with 21 points, while sophomore guard Cooper Collier added eight.
Nimmo sent his starters out to begin the second half, and they began much the same way they opened the game – forcing turnovers and turning them into easy transition baskets. The Tigers continued to hit jump shots as well, as junior guard Kye Denker buried a deep three pointer late in the quarter to put the Tigers up by 34.
At the end of the period, the Tigers lead the Bison 66-29.
The fourth quarter moved quickly because of the running clock rule, which mandates that any game with a spread of 30 points or more have a continuously running clock in the fourth quarter.
Even with the running clock, the Tigers managed to score 15 points. Senior guard Dalton Thompson got into the act in the fourth quarter, contributing eight points and helping his team finish strong with an 81-38 victory.
“It was really a complete effort,” Nimmo said. “Our guys really played hard, forced turnovers and got to the rim like we wanted.”
Dakota Jones, who was scoreless in the second half, finished the night with 21 points to lead Warrensburg. In addition to Jones, the Tigers were balanced in their scoring. Dalton Thompson finished with 17, while senior TJ Classen and junior Kye Denker each added nine points to the effort.
The Tigers will be back in action for their second game of the Buffalo Tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Rolla. If the Tigers win that game, they will play for the tournament championship on Saturday.