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Tigers open big over Morrison

The Princeton Tigers got off to a fast start to the 2012-13 basketball season, racing out to a 19-0 lead over Morrison in Monday’s opening night of the Sauk Valley Shootout at Prouty Gymnasium.

They turned that fast start into a 63-31 victory in what they hope sets the tone for the rest of the tournament and the season.

“All-in-all a good opener,” PHS coach Jesse Brandt said.

On Tuesday, the Rock Falls Rockets evened the Tigers’ Shootout record to 1-1 with a near reversal of Monday’s score, with the Tigers falling 61-32. The Tigers bounced back to defeat host Sterling  37-33 Wednesday at Musgrove Fieldhouse with the week-long event continuing with PHS meeting Sterling Newman at 5 p.m. Friday and the Dixon Dukes at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Princeton 63, Morrison 31: Morrison may be the Mustangs, but it was the Tigers who went on a ride Monday. The Mustangs tried taking timeouts at 9-0 and 19-0, but nothing seemed to slow down the Blue tide, early.

Cole Evenson tallied seven first-quarter points, and Austen Stewart and Josh Kieffer added five each as the Tigers built a 23-4 lead. PHS stretched their lead to 35-10 at halftime.

Zach Stroud had 12 points and Evenson added 11, with Aaron Ray, Stewart, Kieffer and Austin Mack adding seven each.

Rock Falls 61, Princeton 32: Brad Bickett has returned to the coaching ranks at Rock Falls, and the Tigers found his teams still playing the same brand of ball he had at Bureau Valley — aggressive, in your face defense. That Rocket defense overwhelmed the Tigers.

“Defense is our game,” said the Rockets’ Steven Armoska, who had game-highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds. “Usually we don’t even work on offense in practice. We don’t need to work on offense. Our defense is so good, we create points.”

Armoska set the tone for the Rockets (2-0), scoring 10 points in the first quarter as Rock Falls built an early eight-point lead.

The Rockets upped the difference to a dozen at 24-12 on Armoska’s fast-break bucket with 3:37 left in the first half.

Princeton (1-1) fought back and cut the margin to four twice in the final moments of the half. Rock Falls led 28-22 at the break

The third quarter was all Rockets, outscoring the Tigers 20-2 to go up 48-24.

Kieffer led the Tigers with eight points with Stroud and J.J. Vaccaro adding six each.

• The PHS Kittens opened the sophomore portion of the Shootout with a 62-41 win over Morrison. Garrett Duffin had 22 points, Tyler Clark, 15, and Brenton Schmidt, 11. On Tuesday, the Kittens lost to Rock Falls to even their record to 1-1.

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