The Orleans boys took advantage of Crothersville turnovers and missed shots at the start of the third period to break open a close game and post a 53-36 win in the season opener for both teams Saturday night.
Orleans held a 25-19 lead at the half before the Tigers committed four turnovers and missed their first four field goal attempts of the third period.
That enabled Orleans to go on a 10-0 run to extend its lead to 35-19 and that was the turning point as far as Tigers coach Greg Kilgore was concerned.
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“The first half I was really pleased with the way we handled their pressure, the way we took care of the basketball,” he said. “At the start of the second half we had two crucial turnovers on our first two possessions.
“The 6-point halftime deficit went straight to 11 in two possessions and that’s a big thing to overcome for any team, but when you’ve got a freshman and two sophomores on the floor an 11-point deficit seems huge against a ball club like Orleans.”
Parker Edwards’ free throw put the Bulldogs on top 35-19 with 4:46 left in the quarter.
Josh Thomas drove for a layup for the Tigers’ first points of the period for a 35-21 score at the 4:30 mark, but Orleans outscored the Tigers 14-6 in the quarter to take a 39-25 lead into the final quarter.
The closest the Tigers came in the fourth quarter was 46-32 on a basket by Thomas with 4:50 remaining.
Lane Wienhorst scored 6 points and Thomas five in the opening period to help the Tigers battle on even terms (14-14) with the Bulldogs.
A free throw by Zane Elliott would give the Tigers their final lead of the game at 19-18 with 6:30 left in the second period. Orleans closed the half with a 7-0 run.
Thomas topped all scorers with 18 points. He also led the Tigers in rebounds with seven and handed out four assists.
Wienhorst added 12 points but the remainder of the team combined for one field goal and six points.
“We needed more guys to help out with the scoring,” Kilgore said. “I thought we had decent shot selection. We were 1-for-17 from the 3-point line. We had good looks. A lot of those Josh and Lane knock down over and over in practice.
“That’s a freshman (Thomas) and a sophomore (Wienhorst) who are going to get better as they get older, and those shots are going to get easier. I told them we’ve got two more games next week, and we can’t let this one bring us down so far that we’re not ready to play those games.”
The Tigers finished shooting 13-for-49 from the floor while the Bulldogs made 17 of 49. Orleans held a 40-22 advantage in rebounds.
“We’re going to be undersized all year so we’re going to have to do a better job of boxing out,” Kilgore said. “In the first half I thought we did a lot better job rebounding, boxing out and keeping them off the boards. In the second half, we let them get in there and get more rebounds. We had them for 17 offensive rebounds. That’s way too many.
“I think the kids played with energy. I thought they played hard, and I thought our defense did a relatively good job. We switched defenses several times from man to zone and press, and fell into a half-court trap.
“For young kids I thought they did a pretty good job of switching up, realizing what we were doing. I think it will be a process. Hopefully next weekend we’ll get the train back on the right track.”
The Tigers will play at Medora on Friday night and at Shoals on Saturday night.