By SEAN McCARRELL
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – It was a tough, physical contest for the Warrensburg Tigers Friday night, but good defense and clutch free-throw shooting was able to propel them past Nevada, 51-43.
It was a battle of Tigers as Nevada traveled to Warrensburg Friday night. The Warrensburg Tigers started fast, and were able to quicken the pace, which is what head coach Chris Nimmo said he wanted to see.
“We want to speed them up,” Nimmo said before the game. “We need to pressure the ball.”
A fast-paced first quarter saw a lot of turnovers for each team. Dakota Jones led the Tigers in scoring, with eight of Warrensburg’s 14 first-quarter points. Warrensburg was also able to get the Nevada Tigers in foul trouble, which was a factor in the game throughout the night. After the first period, Warrensburg led Nevada 14-13.
The second quarter was a grind for both teams, but in the end would belong to Nevada. Each team played a tough man-to-man defense, with Warrensburg administering tough full-court pressure, while Nevada was able to rebound well.
Each team continued to turn the ball over and much of the scoring came from the free-throw line. At halftime, Nevada went into the locker room with a one-point lead, 27-26.
In the second half, which has been a bugaboo for Warrensburg in its last two outings, each team dialed up the intensity. A seesaw battle for much of the second half, the two teams traded big baskets and critical free throws. Nevada’s leading scorer, senior guard Silas Smith, was whistled for his third foul in the middle of the third quarter, and had to be careful for the rest of the game. In addition to Smith, Nevada’s double-double threat post player Jamin Brandt was also whistled for his third foul, which allowed Warrensburg to be more aggressive when driving to the basket. Dalton Thompson, Kye Denker and Dakota Jones all had success driving to the basket and either making layups or drawing fouls, a big point of emphasis from Coach Nimmo.
“We have guys that can get to the rim,” Nimmo said. “It was good to see those guys get to the basket. We know we’re a good free-throw-shooting team, and we need to get there more.”
Warrensburg led Nevada at the end of a low-scoring third quarter, 36-33.
While the game was nip and tuck throughout, the fourth quarter belonged to Warrensburg. Corbin Bell and Cooper Collier hit big shots in the period, and were able to make free throws down the stretch as well. With Warrensburg ahead 48-43 with 7.8 seconds left, Cooper Collier drew a foul, and a technical foul was called on the Nevada bench.
Collier made three of four free throws to ice the game for Warrensburg. The Tigers of Warrensburg beat the Tigers of Nevada 51-43.
“Energy was good tonight,” Nimmo said. “We were much better defensively, and this team’s going to have to be a good defensive team.”
Nimmo also commented on the tough style of play.
“We knew if the game stayed in the 50s we would have a good chance to win,” he said. “If it got into the 60s we thought we’d be in trouble.”
Warrensburg was led in scoring by Dakota Jones, who finished with 17. Three other Tigers ended up in double figures, as Dalton Thompson contributed 11, and Kye Denker and Corbin Bell each chipped in 10.
The Tigers (3-2) will be back in action next Friday night on the road at O’Hara.