by David Gregorich
For the Pharos-Tribune
Pioneer’s boys basketball team backed up its newly-minted No. 8 ranking in Class A with a win at a place the Panthers have struggled at over the last decade-plus.
The Panthers recorded a come-from-behind 61-58 win at Frontier Friday night, their first win there since 1999. Pioneer improved to 7-2 and 2-0 in the Midwest Conference after its sixth straight win. The Panthers are ranked this week for the first time since they were ranked No. 2 early in the 2003-04 campaign.
The Panthers seemed out of sync through three quarters of play Friday as offensive miscues and a few defensive breakdowns had them trailing at halftime and at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
“I think we were just a little rusty, and we did not play very well as a team,” said Pioneer senior Brandon Scruggs. “It’s been a while since we last played, and it took us a while to get things going.”
After the first period ended with the game tied at 17-all, Frontier got hot in the second scoring 21 points and went into halftime with a 38-35 lead.
“You have to give Frontier credit, they played a heck of a game, a game that we probably needed,” said Pioneer Coach Pat Skaggs. “We are probably going to get everybody’s best shot and our guys have got to be ready for that.”
Things started going the Panthers’ way in the third quarter as they outscored the Falcons 11-9, but they still trailed 47-46 going into the fourth. Pioneer began to rally as Matt Dorris and sophomore Carter Skaggs each had two baskets to take the lead, and Pioneer was able seal the game’s last minutes at the free-throw line that included a pair must-make shots that senior Mitchell Williams knocked down with ease. Williams finished with a solid all-around game of six points, four assists, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
“We knew that we could play better, and we made some adjustments at halftime to hopefully get things going our way,” said Dorris, who scored 16 points and pulled down five rebounds for the Panthers.
Along with Dorris, Pioneer had two other players in double figures scoring, including Carter Skaggs, who led all scorers with 22 points. Scruggs also had a big night. Along with scoring 12 points, he added eight assists and seven steals. Senior Clayton Harvey added four points, and Stephen Whitlock added a fourth-quarter free throw to finish out Pioneer’s scoring.
Brandon Gallinger and Austin Woolley scored 13 points apiece to lead the Falcons (4-8, 2-3).
Pioneer hosts Lafayette Faith Christian tonight.