PILOT GROVE — Solid defense and a first-quarter run lifted Stover to a 56-40 win over Northwest Saturday in the Pilot Grove Tiger Classic.
The Bulldogs went on an 11-0 run in the first and never trailed after that.
“We’ve been hustling,” said Stover coach Mike Uptegrove. “We closed in our defense and we’ve made a lot of mental mistakes so we’ve tried to cut down on that. They started hustling and working and talking.”
During the first-quarter run, Alex Haag stepped into take a pair of charges. He also capped off the first quarter with a pair of baskets in the paint. In the second quarter he put together another run with back-to-back-to-back baskets followed by free throws to put Stover up 25-15 at halftime.
“One of our goals was to not let him catch it on the block,” said Northwest coach David Dawson. “We didn’t do a very good job. He caught it wherever he wanted to.”
Haag finished with 17 points.
“He doesn’t have much weight to him, but he’s quick He probably averaging around 10-11 points a ballgame for us. Our big scorer is (Brenden) Bauer. He’s averaging 20 points per game for us. So we’ve been balanced.”
Stover’s press caused problems for Northwest, who turned the ball over 17 times.
“(We were) trying to keep the basketball to the middle more than anything but we struggled,” Dawson said. “We’re learning,”
Stover led by as many as 15 in the third quarter and led 36-35 after three. In the fourth, despite injuries and foul trouble, Northwest cut the lead to single digits, getting a Dallin Townsend 3-pointer followed by a Daniel Blaylock basket in the paint and a steal and layup from Townsend to cut the lead to 42-35 with 4:00 to play.
Stover answered as Colton Johannes hit a left-handed layup, then got a steal and another layup. He got another steal moments later which led to a free throw.
In the other tournament game on Saturday, Pilot Grove beat Prairie Home 83-78 to capture the tournament championship.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles