Tioga loses to Muenster to end first half of 13-2A play
TIOGA — The little things started piling up as early as the first quarter, when the Bulldogs were within striking distance.
They had a chance to tie the game in the second quarter, and were down by single digits multiple times in the third.
But Tioga struggled to keep pace with Muenster whether it was a three-pointer rattling out or a turnover leading to an empty possession at the wrong time.
It was those minor miscues in the flow of the game which kept the Bulldogs from making the Hornets pay for their own offensive struggles.
“We had opportunities and sometimes we didn’t convert.We just weren’t efficient enough on the offensive end,” first-year Tioga head coach DeVon English said. “I thought we did a good enough job with our defensive effort. They killed us on the boards and that was basically the difference in the game.”
Muenster put together enough production in the second quarter and defeated the Bulldogs, 43-26, in District 13-2A action.
Logan Westbrook scored nine points and DeVon English Jr. added eight points for Tioga (6-13, 2-4), which travels to Chico on Friday night.
Grant Hess had 10 points and 14 rebounds while Matthew Klement also scored 10 points and Eli Saucer chipped in nine points for Muenster (6-5, 5-1), which has the district bye on Friday before hosting Chico on Tuesday. The Hornets are tied with Lindsay for first place.
Tioga entered the contest in a three-way tie with Era and Collinsville for the final playoff spot but will start the second half a game back of a three-way tie for third between those two teams and Alvord.
“I anticipated us being in that third, fourth spot. We’re struggling right now,” English said. “Second half will be tough and we’ll need some help from some teams and we’ve got to play ball.”
The Bulldogs were down only 10-6 after the first quarter despite Muenster opening the game with seven straight points and Tioga not getting its first basket until Tristan Vaughn’s layup with just over two minutes left in the frame.
English Jr. scored on a drive to begin the second quarter but Klement responded with a personal 7-0 run, including a three-point play, that pushed the Hornets’ advantage out to 17-8.
Muenster cobbled together 15 points in the stanza and Saucer hit a jumper in the final minute to give the Hornets a 25-13 lead at the break. Klement had all 10 of his points before half-time and Saucer scored seven of his nine in that span.
Lucas Vaughn hit a three-pointer in the latter stages of the second to make it a 10-point deficit.
The Bulldogs wouldn’t get much closer than that. Tioga was down nine three times in the third quarter, first on three free throws by Westbrook, then at 29-20 on a pair from the line by English Jr. with 4:09 left and finally on a floater from Evan Mayes with 2:27 on the clock.
Tioga outscored Muenster by a point in the third and was down 33-22 before Hess picked up the slack for the Hornets. He had all 10 of his points in the second half and continued his strong work on the boards.
The Bulldogs made just one shot in the fourth quarter, a layup by English Jr. with 5:18 remaining and Westbrook hit a pair of free throws for the only other points down the stretch.
Tioga held Muenster to 10 points or less in three quarters but at the other end of the floor couldn’t crack double digits in any frame.