The Pittsburg High School boys basketball team started out at home against Labette County, Dec. 3, and played its final game before Christmas break, against Arkansas City, approximately 3 hours away from the friendly and often rowdy confines of Pittsburg High School.

The Pittsburg High School boys basketball team started out at home against Labette County, Dec. 3, and played its final game before Christmas break, against Arkansas City, approximately 3 hours away from the friendly and often rowdy confines of Pittsburg High School.

Jordan Elliott scored five points on the Grizzlies in the first two minutes of the season opener and then Labette County went on a 25-5 run to end the first half.

Dillon O’Dell, who did not play in the first half, emerged in the second half and gave Pittsburg a spark with 10 points, but the Grizzlies withstood and won, 54-42.

Labette County had a little extra motivation after being picked No. 7 in the SEK preseason poll.

“The seventh place prediction bothered them,” Labette County head coach Brad Smith said. “These kids believe in each other and play as a team. We executed and our pressure bothered them.”

“We jumped out to a quick lead,” Pittsburg head coach Kiley Roelfs said. “They did a nice job of not panicking and keeping their composure. We did panic and got in a big hurry offensively.”

33-28 W vs. Girard
Pittsburg jumped out to a 17-6 halftime lead against Girard after holding the Trojans to a goose egg in the second quarter.

Girard put on a second-half charge, cutting Pittsburg’s lead down to one point (29-28) with 1 minute, 26 seconds remaining. Girard never did take its lead and O’Dell and Caeleb Farrington made four free throws in the final minute of the game to ice Pittsburg’s first victory.

“Down the stretch, we made enough plays to get the job done,” Roelfs said. “We had guys step up and make big foul shots.”

Elliott, in some ways the quarterback of the basketball team, went down in the first half when he collided with a Girard player, limiting his playing time in the second half against Girard and casting into doubt his availability for the Fort Scott game.

56-42 L at Fort Scott
Fort Scott lived by the 3-point shot against Pittsburg, outscoring the Purple Dragons 21-6 in the second quarter, helped out by five 3-point shots made by Cameron Woodring (three), Gabe Quick (one) and Cody Harper (one).

Going in, Fort Scott’s 3-point shooting most concerned Roelfs, as well as inside threat Griffin Knopp.

“Fort Scott has shot the three well to this point in the season,” Roelfs said. “They have good team quickness and are good at getting the ball to the basket on the dribble. The Knopp kid inside is very athletic and helps round them out as a very good team.”

Knopp led Fort Scott with 16 points and Woodring had 13 as Fort Scott won after its big second quarter, 56-42. Zach Younge played his best game of the young season, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, leading Pittsburg and Elliott did play, ending with six points.

65-49 W vs. Chanute
A week off from game play must have done the Pittsburg boys some good. The Purple Dragons came out and played their most complete game of the season against the Chanute Blue Comets, which came into Pittsburg High School 4-0 and left 4-1.

Jalen King scored eight points in a second quarter that had the Purple Dragons scoring 23 points and taking a 36-22 halftime lead.

“He (King) has the ability to score,” Roelfs said. “He looked confident shooting tonight and our guys did a good job of finding him for open looks.”

The main difference in the game was in free throw shooting. Both teams shot a similar percentage (around 70 percent), but Pittsburg made 21 of 30 and Chanute made 9 of 13 free throws, a 12-point difference. Matt Clark, Pittsburg’s main ballhandler, made 10 of 14 free throws.

“We got into a situation where they had to foul,” Roelfs said. “Matt’s a primary ballhandler and he stepped up and made his free throws.”

46-35 W at Arkansas City
Where Fort Scott lived by it, Arkansas City died by the 3-point shot against Pittsburg. In the first half, Arkansas City made 4 of 11 3-point shots and 0 of 7 in the second half as Pittsburg applied a defensive clampdown.

The Purple Dragons entered halftime on a high note after Joe Wimmer made a steal and set up Jornell Fondren for the last shot of the half; Pittsburg took a 22-20 lead on Fondren’s shot.

Seniors Elliott and Younge tied for the team lead in points with 12 points. Elliott added six rebounds, three steals, two assists and a couple blocked shots. Younge led Pittsburg with seven rebounds and shot 6 of 10 free throws.