PRINCETON — Princeton Tiger coach Jesse Brandt was beside himself when the Tigers failed to hold the ball for the final shot at the end of the first three quarters. He didn’t have to worry about the fourth. Jacob Fisher took care of that with some help from his friends in blue.
The PHS senior forward poured in 20 fourth-quarter points, finishing with a career-high 37 points on an assortment of offensive putbacks and transition baskets to lead the Tigers to a 78-68 win over Bureau Valley at the Storm Cellar Tuesday night. Fisher’s tally was the most for a Tiger since Danny Nelson had 39 at home against Dixon in the 2003-04 season.
Fisher admitted to looking up to the scoreboard “now and then,” but said his point total is not a big deal.
“You want that W,” he said. “We’ve got to keep our momentum going. After that bad streak we had, we’ve got to keep it going.”
And he had it going in the fourth quarter. He registered 10 baskets, including a stretch scoring 10 of 12 PHS points to turn a six-point lead (64-58) into 76-64. Three baskets came on putbacks, one on an assist from Zach Stroud on a drive and dish, and another on a full-court outlet from Kyle Arnett.
“Coach (Michael) Fredericks always tells me, ‘You got to get those rebounds, Fish, get those rebounds.’ So I got to go get them and just put them back up,” said Fisher, who had nine offensive rebounds. “I kept getting those easy putbacks and they kept looking for me on those lob plays all the way down the floor, just finishing layups.”
Brandt said Fisher’s tally was most impressive considering he didn’t play in the second quarter after picking up two fouls in the first.
“Thirty seven points and we had him for 13 rebounds in three quarters. That’s a pretty good game,” he said. “He made two threes and outside of that, I don’t think he had another shot out of the lane. It was a lot of hard work on his part, getting offensive rebounds, guys finding him in transition and getting easy baskets that way, and he got some steals for layups. Usually when you get 37, you get a lot of free throws. He was (only) 3 of 4.
“Last two nights he’s played well, and that’s why we won it. A lot of the guys feed off him. He needs to continue to play that way, if we want to continue to win.”
BV coach Eric Lawson was not happy the Storm let Fisher get away like that and took some of the blame.
“It’s an easy night when you outwork your opponents when you’re active on the offensive glass. He was just relentless and we didn’t do the little things to make contact with him. I don’t think any of our guys recognized he had that many points,” he said. “It goes to show you how much I know how to teach defense. It starts with me in putting people in the right spots and doing the right things.”
The Tigers needed every bit of Fisher’s fourth-quarter production, because Bureau Valley’s Bryce Walters was putting on his own show. He scored 13 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 7 of 7 from the free-throw line.
“We struggle to the point where we cut it four and worked so hard to get it four, and then we give up two buckets in transition and that was a back breaker,” Lawson said. “Bryce does a nice job around the rim. He continues to work, and we need to continue to make him the focal point of our offense. Once he starts getting touches and makes people collapse, then we can refocus on kicking those passes outside for those shots.”
PHS led by as much 10 points in the first half at 31-21 when Arnett found Cole Evenson open inside for an assist and Lance Jensen on the break for another. Brandt wanted the Tigers to hold for the final shot of the second quarter, but those honors went to the Storm, who cashed in on an Ethan Ringle drive to trim the Tiger lead to 34-27 at halftime.
The Storm closed within 41-37 on a pair of free throws by Parker Neuhalfen (17 points) with 4:35 left in the third quarter. The Tigers closed strong on a three and a layup by Fisher and a drive by Josh Kieffer to take a 49-40 lead in the fourth quarter.
• Notes: Arnett had a solid night with 13 points and 9 rebounds for the Tigers. Josh Kieffer added 9 points and Jensen had 8. PHS junior Austen Stewart had a doctor’s appointment Wednesday to be checked out after banging his head in the second half, Brandt said. ... PHS won the sophomore game 58-44. ... The Tigers will host IVC Friday for the PHS Senior Night. The Storm return to action at the Storm Cellar Saturday against Prophetstown.