It was a battle between two of the best athletes in the Southern Plains - Iroquois Activities Association Friday as senior Kade Scott and the Pawnee Heights Tigers matched up in a consolation game against senior Cody Lohrding and the Ashland Bluejays in the 2019 SPIAA League Basketball Tournament.
The Bluejays prevailed by a score of 57-54.
The win came in part because The Bluejays outscored the Tigers 19-11 in the third quarter, which allowed them to take a 41-28 lead into the fourth quarter, having led 22-17 at halftime.
“Obviously it gave us a little bit of separation for our eventual imploding in the fourth quarter,” Ashland head coach Garth Gardiner said. “I told them in the locker room, I said ‘We are the most bipolar team.’”
One minute the team will do something great, Gardiner said, the next minute they’ll do something that drives him insane.
“We don’t have a lot of room for error on this team,” Gardiner said. “We’ve got some decent basketball players, but we can’t just walk out on the floor and not make mistakes and to make mistakes like we do.”
Scott made some plays, and Ashland threw the ball away and made other mistakes.
“Thankfully Cody rose up and made some big plays as well, and we hit some free throws down in the end and kind of saved the game for us, but it wasn’t a thing of beauty by any means,” Gardiner said. “We’ve been in close games before where we’ve missed those and it’s cost us, so I’m proud of our guys for having the confidence to make free throws.”
As for this Tournament, Gardiner said the team was disappointed not to be playing in the semifinal after having their chances against Kiowa County in Tuesday’s 48-41 loss.
“The only thing we can do is to now take it one game at a time and focus on the playoffs and go 1-0 every night,” Gardiner said. “I told our guys we need to now think about improving every day in practice, improving in games and going into the (State) tournament with some momentum.”