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Tigers top Dixon; take third at Sauk Valley Shootout

STERLING — The Princeton Tigers finished the week in the Sauk Valley Shootout with a 57-45 win over Dixon Saturday night at Musgrove Fieldhouse. It was a good bounce-back win after falling to Sterling Newman 54-46 on Friday, landing the Tigers in third place in the Shootout standings.

“Overall, it was nice to come out with a winning record. We did some good things, but we have lots to improve on,” PHS coach Jesse Brandt said.

Princeton 57, Dixon 45: The Tigers jumped out of the gate with an 8-0 start against the Dukes with Austen Stewart netting the game’s first two baskets. The Tigers settled in for a 15-7 first-quarter lead with Aaron Ray adding a three-pointer.

The Tigers put the squeeze on the Dukes in the second quarter, using a 16-2 surge to vault to a 31-9 halftime lead. Zach Stroud hit a two and a three for five points and Cole Evenson sank five of six free throws in the second quarter.

As pleased as Brandt was with the Tigers’ first-half play, he soured on the second-half effort. The Dukes outscored the Tigers 16-10 in third quarter and 36-26 over the second half.

“I was disappointed our energy level decreased in the second half and we let them back in the game,” he said.

Evenson finished the night with 18 points. Stroud added 11 points, Josh Kieffer had 10 and Stewart chipped in nine.

Newman 54, Princeton 46: The shoe was on the other foot Friday with Comets taking control early with a 21-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. The Comets launched four three-point bombs in the eight-minute stretch.

The Tigers were able to cut into the Comets lead by halftime, using a 11-4 second-quarter edge to pull within 25-19 at halftime on two Stroud free throws.

The Comets again started the second half hot with a 7-0 start. The Tigers answered with six straight with Newman settling for a 40-31 lead at quarter’s end.

Evenson finished the night strong, scoring 12 of his game-high 16 points in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter. Stroud chipped in eight points.

• Shootout notes: Newman beat Morrison 48-44 on Saturday to claim its first Sauk Valley Shootout championship since 1996. Rock Falls beat Sterling 57-54 to take second place with Princeton (3-2) taking third over Sterling (3-2) by head-to-head play. ... PHS’ Evenson and Josh Kieffer were named to the All-Tournament Team.

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