Defense leads to big wins for Pirates
POLSON — The Polson Pirates kept on winning big last week, posting a 90-56 win at home over Eureka and an even bigger 59-34 conference win in Libby on Saturday.
Nine Pirates scored on their home-court against Eureka Thursday, led by Kyle Bagnell with 29 and Louis Mohr with 26. Mohr just missed a triple-double, with 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Tim Rausch also scored 13 points and had seven rebounds and a team-high five steals. Sheldon Fisher also stepped up to score 12 points.
The Pirates hit 14 of 38 three-point attempts, but Polson’s full-court defense also created a lot of offense.
“We scored a bunch of points off our defense,” head coach Brad Pluff said. “We pressured them pretty good and created a lot of scores in transition. Defensively we’re playing better ... we’ve been working hard on that and it’s beginning to show, starting with the Columbia Falls game.”
That improved defense also led the way in Libby, too. The Pirates’ plan was to score some points early, which they are certainly capable of, but to clamp down on Libby defensively so the Loggers would have to play catch-up.
The plan worked well as the Pirates jumped out to a 20-7 first quarter lead and continued to push the ball up the floor in the second half.
Seven Pirates scored with a nice balance, led by Tyler Krell with 12 points down low and Vince DiGiallonardo scoring 12 from his point guard spot. Bagnell drew a lot of defensive attention but still netted 10 and Tim Rausch slashed for nine points.
“The scoring was pretty spread out, and we’ll sure take that,” coach Pluff said. “Louis (Mohr) had another good night with seven points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. We use him on the wing and at high post against zones ... he does a good job of finding open kids and he’s a tough kid to guard. He gives defenders problems.”
But the defense was the game-breaker.
“We were full-court man, with a little bit of half-court trap. Pretty good defense. We did a pretty good job with Bagnell on Colten Cannon ... and held him scoreless,” Pluff noted. “They can play a deliberate, slow-down game, and we like to get out on it. So we decided to jump out on them and not let them slow it down. That was a nice win going into the tournament. That looks like who we’ll face in the opener on Thursday (Feb. 25 at divisionals at Glacier High in Kalispell). Looks like we’ll be two seed and they’ll be the three seed.”
But the Pirates, who are 4-2 in conference, look to first finish the regular season strong, including a pair of home games against Columbia Falls on Thursday and Ronan on Saturday (girls play at 6 p.m. and the boys play at 8).
Polson 90, Eureka 56
Eureka 14 12 13 17–56
Polson 25 27 22 16–90
EUREKA - Jesse Thompson 5, Andrew Sanders 1, Tanner Peterson 4, Ryan Holder 22, Tanner Blankers 12, Andrew Derby 2, Caleb Curtiss 2, Bryton Guckenberg 8.
POLSON - Vince DiGiallonardo 3, Kyle Bagnell 29, Zach Camel 1, Sheldon Fisher 12, Tim Rausch 13, Louis Mohr 26, Derrick Rathe 2, Tyler Krell 2, Cody Fischer 2.
Polson 59, Libby 34
Polson 20 6 18 15–59
Libby 7 4 11 12–34
POLSON - Vince DiGiallonardo 11, Kyle Bagnell 10, Sheldon Fisher 7, Tim Rausch 9, Louis Mohr 7, Derrick Rathe 3, Tyler Krell 12.
LIBBY - TJ Benson 4, Cree Maloney 5, Kelly May 11, Garrett Craig 2, Nate Broden 6, Alex Cislo 6.