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Tucker leaves Tigers searching for answers

Boys basketball: Ottawa 75, Princeton 51

OTTAWA — For most of the opening half Tuesday evening, the Ottawa Pirates had a tough time shaking former NCIC foe Princeton at Kingman Gym.

Then Pirates senior guard Myles Tucker made another coach — in this case the Tigers’ Jason Smith — pose an increasingly-familiar question.

“What are you gonna do?” asked Smith after seeing Tucker score 17 straight Ottawa points in the third quarter of the Pirates’ 75-51 home triumph.

“What can you do when he hits a stepback 3 three times in a row? I mean, he’s a great player, we all know that, and hats off to him for making shots. ... I thought we played good defense on him for the most part.

“What are you gonna do?”

Tucker finished with a game-high 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting, his third consecutive 30-plus-point game.

But he was far from alone as the Pirates (9-6) took the lead for good before Tucker’s explosion on a Levi Sholders broken-play/all-alone 3-pointer midway through the second quarter that made it 21-20.

That started what waxed into a 15-2 run until halftime and ultimately a 49-21 run that extended well into the fourth quarter with Ottawa’s starters — including Tucker — long since tucked away safely on the bench with the game well in hand.

“We had a nice little surge late in the second quarter to bust it to 11, and then obviously we shot it really well in the second half to expand the lead,” Ottawa coach Mark Cooper said. “I was really happy with our bench tonight. I thought our bench gave us a lot of minutes and energy and productivity, and at times we needed it.

“And offensively, Myles was very comfortable most of the night. He took the kinds of shots that we want him to take, but also when he got in the lane and there was a lot of traffic, he found shooters.

“He did a lot of good things once again.”

On the other end, it was primarily TJ McDonnell’s shutdown defense which limited dangerous Princeton scorer Jamie Reinhardt to two points, with Wyatt Davis stepping up to lead the Tigers (8-8) with 15 points.

“Wyatt came into his own today. We needed that from him,” Smith said. “We need a second scorer to step up. Reinhardt just didn’t have it tonight, and a lot of that is because (Ottawa) did a nice job on him.

“Wyatt was a basketball player and not just an athlete tonight, and that makes a big difference for our team.”

Liam Duffin (6 points), Branden Haring (5 points) and Brayden DeBates (5 points, 3 assists, 2 steals) also paced Princeton, which shot 39.2 percent (20 of 51) from the field and committed 19 turnovers, but won the rebounding battle 30-26 and stayed right there with Tucker and the high-powered Pirates until late in the second half.

Tucker, Anthony Cooper (15 points) and Zach Vogel (10 points) led an Ottawa attack which shot 51.7 percent (30 of 58) from the field, including 39.3 percent (11 of 28) from 3-point distance, while committing just six turnovers through three quarters.

• Notes: Ottawa won the sophomore game 53-46. Brayden Scaggs had 19 points and Grady Thompson added 14. ... The Tigers were scheduled to play at Chillicothe IVC Friday and host St. Bede at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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