DAYTON — Near the end of the first quarter Saturday, Jaren Fritz hit a 3-pointer and drained a jumper on back-to-back possessions. The Tongue River rout was on from there, as the Eagles demolished Moorcroft 98-47.
Tongue River boosted its conference record to 4-4 with two games remaining. It was the Eagles’ highest-scoring game of the season, easily exceeding the 77 points they scored in the first game against Moorcroft.
The Eagles ran on all cylinders throughout the game offensively and shot the best they have all season. They scored more than 20 points in each quarter, made a season-high 14 3-pointers and moved the ball well inside.
“It was finally good to knock down some 3s against a 2-3 (zone),” Tongue River head coach Ronnie Stewart said. “Usually it’s teams knocking down 3s against us.”
Hugh Patterson played effectively in his final career home game, ending with 15 points.
Stewart complimented his seniors — Patterson and Jay Keo — and said it has been a pleasure coaching them the past two seasons.
“Both are ‘yes sir, no sir’ kids that work hard, want to please and have bright futures,” Stewart said.
Tongue River played a little lackadaisically in the game’s opening minutes, allowing easy baskets for the Wolves. The game was tied at 9 before the Eagles offense woke up shortly after.
Fritz’s outside shooting jump-started a 20-2 Eagles run over the span of four minutes and 30 seconds, opening up a 40-14 lead. Fritz poured in 43 points in the first contest between the teams and had another great scoring night Saturday, leading the team with 23 points.
During that dominant stretch of play, the Eagles played happy and loose, with nearly all players contributing offensively.
“They play different when they have a little bit more fun,” Stewart said.
Tongue River led 52-22 at half but started the third quarter a little slow. Moorcroft drained four 3-pointers in quick succession, but the Eagles soon responded, thanks in large part to defense.
The Tongue River press led to turnover after turnover by the Wolves, who lobbed passes into the Eagles’ waiting arms. Keo and Fritz were particularly active and helped Tongue River go an a 14-2 run to end any hint of a comeback.
The great 3-point shooting from Tongue River’s role players was a hugely encouraging sign Stewart hopes will continue. The head coach also acknowledged the excellent gym environment.
“All the home games all season long, we’ve had great crowds,” Stewart said. “We haven’t always given them great performances, but they still stuck by us.”
The games likely won’t be this easy for Tongue River going forward, but at least for one night, the team made all the right plays and sent the fans home with a great performance.
Tongue River travels to Sundance Friday.
Moorcroft………………..12 10 16 9 — 47
Tongue River……………25 27 22 24 — 98
Moorcroft — Osmond 13, Stripp 13, Wood 12, Pavlenko 4, Connally 3, Blakeman 2
Tongue River — Fritz 23, McCafferty 16, H. Patterson 15, Reish 14, Keo 7, S. Patterson 7, Rees 6, Summers 5, McMeans 3, Perfetti 2