By SEAN McCARRELL
(KANSAS CITY, Mo., ,digitalBURG) – It was all Celtics Friday night, as the Warrensburg Tigers dropped their West Central Conference opener 58-45 to O’Hara on the road.
A sloppy first quarter for both teams led to a low-scoring affair in the first half. The Tigers had trouble handling the full-court pressure of O’Hara in the early going, and turnovers led to easy transition points for the Celtics. The Tigers were unable to summon much offense as, when they were able to break through the pressure, they had a tough shooting night from the field and at the free-throw line. After a tough first quarter for Warrensburg, the Celtics led 15-6.
“We have to pressure their guards,” said Tigers head coach Chris Nimmo. “They are similar to us in that they don’t have much size inside and they’re young. So we feel like we can put pressure on their guards.”
The Tigers were unable to put adequate pressure on the ball handlers of the Celtics, as O’Hara shot the ball well from the perimeter, led by four three pointers from their leading scorer, Kyle Baker.
As O’Hara was in foul trouble much of the night, the Tigers were unable to hit free throws, which is uncharacteristic of Warrensburg. The Tigers had trouble hitting free throws as well as wide-open jump shots, and went into the locker room with their lowest halftime total this season, trailing 29-19.
“We have to be able to attack the basket,” Nimmo said. “We have guys that can score, and we want to get them to the free-throw line.”
However, the free-throw line continued to be a bugaboo for the Tigers in the second half, as well as O’Hara’s ability to make outside shots. A three pointer by the Tigers’ Dakota Jones and a baseline drive by Kye Denker cut the Celtic lead to five in the third quarter, but that was as close as Warrensburg would get the rest of the night.
With his team ahead by nine, Kyle Baker hurled a buzzer-beating three pointer at the end of the third quarter from 35 feet out. The ball splashed through the net as the buzzer sounded, giving O’Hara a 46-34 lead after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, O’Hara continued to pull away, extending its lead to as many as 16.
The Celtics were led by Kyle Baker, who finished with 18, and Isaac Uche, who contributed 13. The Tigers were led in scoring by Dalton Thompson who had 11, while Dakota Jones finished with 10.
With the loss, the Tigers fall to 3-3 on the year and 0-1 in West Central Conference play. They will be back in action Tuesday night, as they travel to Marshall to take on the Owls.