PRINCETON — The Princeton Tigers dominated the highly favored Kewanee Boilermakers for the first quarter of Saturday’s game at Prouty Gymnasium, riding senior guard Austen Stewart’s 11 points to a 14-7 lead.
But high school basketball games are 32 minutes long, not eight, and the Boilermakers made the most of their remaining 24 minutes, especially in the second quarter.
Kewanee used a 19-2 run to build a 26-16 halftime lead and rolled to a 57-41 win over their former NCIC rivals and future Three Rivers Conference foes. The Boilermakers led by as much as 27 points midway through the fourth quarter.
“Second quarter, we didn’t play well. They picked up intensity defensively and we didn’t match that,” PHS coach Jesse Brandt said. “Kind of disappointed in our effort overall. I didn’t think we played as well as we should have. Coming off Tuesday, I thought we’d have a little momentum playing well at Rock Falls, but it went the opposite way for us today.”
Kewanee made just 2 of 15 shots from the field in the first quarter. Then things started warming up for the Boilermakers in a hurry.
The Boilermakers scored the first eight points of the second quarter and the last 11 to race away to a 26-16 lead. Freshman Donovan Oliver scored eight points in the second quarter and Matt Gustafson added seven for Kewanee. Cole Evenson had the only points for the Tigers in the second half, scoring inside on an assist from Josh Kieffer.
“When we came out for the second quarter, I don’t think we were as intense and we felt like we were going to breeze by them, I think, but they came back and hit us like a brick wall,” Stewart said.
Oliver put up another eight points in the third quarter, finishing with a game-high 16 for Kewanee. The Boilermakers doubled up the Tigers by the end of the third quarter at 44-22 and took its biggest lead of the night at 55-28 on a three-point basket by John Moroski.
“We talked before the game about controlling the tempo. First quarter we held them to seven and after that just let them dictate tempo the rest of the game,” Brandt said.
“It was Stewart who was boiling in the first quarter. He made all four shots he took, including three straight treys. His drive for a deuce gave the Tigers a 14-7 lead at the end of one.
He finished with a career-high 17 points, on 6 of 10 shooting from the field and 1 of 2 from the free-throw line.
He’s been shooting well in practice and it’s good to see that carry over in the game. Just got to give him more opportunities. When we need some big shots, he needs to step up and be the one who wants to take it and we’ve got to be able to give him the ball and get him good screens,” Brandt said.
Tiger tales: The Kittens spotted the Riveters a 10-0 lead to start the game before rallying for a 62-43 victory in the sophomore prelim. PHS outscored its guests 42-19 over the second half. Garrett Duffin led the Kittens with 19 points and Jake Reinhardt and Tyler Clark had 11 each. ... The Tigers will welcome Bureau County rival Bureau Valley to Prouty Gym Tuesday for the PHS Senior Night.