PITTSBURG — It was a historic night for Pittsburg girls basketball, as Taylor Muff scored her 1,000th-career point en route to helping the Dragons earn a 51-32 win over Independence Friday at home.
Muff took the contest over, scoring a game-high 23 points, 14 in the first half, as the catalyst for the Dragons in the win. She finished with a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds.
“Taylor was unbelievable in that first half,” Pittsburg head coach Eric Flaton said. “It was an incredible job by her … For our program, it is great to have a 1,000-point scorer. I am very proud of her.”
The win puts Pittsburg (9-6, 6-1 SEK) in a tie atop the Southeast Kansas League standings with Independence (11-3, 6-1 SEK).
“We knew what we had to do defensively,” Flaton said. “I think our girls were fired up and ready to go. It led to easy buckets and good offense occasionally.”
Daeshia Turner finished in double figures, scoring 13 points and grabbing six rebounds for PHS in the win.
“Daeshia has been our best defender since Christmas, really getting after people and shutting them down, but what’s exciting is she’s now generating offense,” Flaton said. “She is willing to take a 3-point shot, she is willing to follow her shot, she’s driving the ball really well and she made a couple of free throws tonight, which we love. All of those things add up to make us more dynamic.”
Abbie Ewing led the Bulldogs in scoring, finishing with eight points, while Aubree Lawrie added seven in the loss.
The Dragons started the game on a 12-2 run, with Muff accounting for eight points, the last two of which came at the 3:25 mark, where she scored on the block to achieve her milestone.
Turner knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner off the inbound pass to push the lead to more than 15, 26-9, with 3:34 left in the first half.
Turner finished out the second quarter with a drive left for a score and a pair of makes from the stripe to send the Dragons into the locker room leading 30-14.
Aubree Beitzinger, who finished with six points, connected from 3-point land off the Abbie Casper dish with 2:44 left in the third to give PHS a 37-18 lead.
Pittsburg cruised with the lead in the final eight minutes of play.
DRAGONS SHAKE OFF SLOW START IN WIN
Pittsburg boys basketball fell behind 17-3 four minutes into the game before rallying to earn a 64-56 win over Independence Friday.
The Bulldogs started the game on fire, knocking down five 3-pointers to build a 14-point lead midway through the first. The Dragons clawed back to take its first lead midway through the second quarter, going in front 32-27 by the intermission. Holding on to the same five-point lead to start the fourth, the Dragons made 11 free throws in the slow-paced final quarter to seal the win.
“It was a hard-earned win, that’s for sure,” Pittsburg head coach Kiley Roelfs said. “Coach [Marcus] Lanning had them ready to go, they were well prepared and played really well tonight. I don’t know if I can sit here and describe how we played, I just know we got enough done, especially on the defensive end … It wasn’t easy tonight, we had to earn everything. Tip your caps to Independence, I thought they played well.”
The win moves Pittsburg (13-1, 7-0 SEK) into sole possession of first place in the Southeast Kansas League.
“The last thing we talked about in the locker room was what we needed to do come Monday,” Roelfs said. “They all said, ‘Keep reaching.’ You can’t stop and feel good about where you’re at right now. If you do, you stop playing well and stop getting better.”
Elijah Harris was the catalyst for the PHS offense, finishing the game with 15 points, including seven free throws in the fourth quarter.
“Elijah really stepped up,” Roelfs said. “He was a key factor all night. When we were dead a couple of times on the offensive end, he found a way to get to the rim for a layup or foul, or both. I thought he really stepped up leadership wise.”
Marque English finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Drew Roelfs added nine points and four assists.
Jerek Butcher had nine points, and Chase Curtis finished with five points and six rebounds for Pittsburg.
Zeadric Daniels (21) and Davion Lewis (15) combined to score 36 points to lead the Bulldogs offensively.
Independence’s barrage of triples out of the gate was led by Daniels and Lewis, with Daniels connecting on two 3-pointers and Lewis sinking three triples to go along with a pull-up jumper to give the Bulldogs an early 17-3 lead.
“I think that was a great test for us,” Coach Roelfs said when asked about his team coming back from the early deficit. “We settled down on both ends, and I thought our kids responded well.”
Drew Roelfs nailed his first 3-pointer off the half to kill the Indy run. He sank his second 3-ball of the quarter with three seconds remaining to cut the Bulldogs’ advantage to 19-13 by the start of the second period.
PHS cut the lead to one, 19-18, after English grabbed a defensive board and went coast to coast for the score with 6:08 on the clock.
Curtis had a tip-in basket off a Harris’ steal to give the Dragons their first lead of the game, 20-19, with 5:28 to play in the half.
Pittsburg closed out the first half with an offensive rebound and putback by Trent Austin, and a scoop layup off the loose ball by Butcher with two seconds on the clock to make the score 32-27.
Independence cut the lead to one possession twice in the third quarter, but a Butcher 3-pointer at the buzzer sent the Dragons into the fourth holding onto a 47-42 lead.
With the Dragons in the double bonus starting the final period, it came down to free throws to seal the win.
Pittsburg was 11 of 16 from the stripe in the final quarter, with Harris accounting for seven of those makes, to hold on for the victory.
Pittsburg basketball is on the road against Parsons for a double-header, with the girls’ game tipping off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
-- Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @LDsportswriter.