DAYTON — Braden McCafferty’s fourth 3-pointer sailed through the net less than 10 minutes into the game. It was early in the second quarter, but the Tongue River High School boys basketball team had already amassed a 25-point lead and was well on its way to a lopsided win.
The Eagles used a dynamic first half to cruise to an 81-41 victory Saturday against Riverside. TR is now 3-2 in quadrant competition after also winning 55-53 Friday night at Greybull.
Tongue River started the game hot from behind the 3-point arc and kept it up for the entirety of the game’s opening 16 minutes. The Eagles led 24-6 after the first quarter and took a 51-21 lead into half. Tongue River had good looks nearly every trip down the floor, many of which began when the Eagles forced turnovers using the full-court press.
Tongue River head coach Tyler Hanson said the press defense put the team in the right mindset early.
“(It) gets our blood pumping right away, and when you get a few deflections, it can give you a lot of confidence pretty fast,” Hanson said.
TR hit four 3-pointers in the first eight minutes — three courtesy of McCafferty — and made six shots from downtown in the first half before cooling off after halftime.
“There were guys were all over the place doing good things for us, whether it was on the defensive end or the offensive end,” Hanson said. “I thought we shared the ball pretty well.”
Tongue River’s Cade Reish scored 13 points, 11 of which came in the first two stanzas.
Reish said the Eagles played their best full-court defense of the season, something they have worked on throughout the year. He enjoys playing a fast-paced style with players flying all over the court.
“We’re a run-and-gun team,” Reish said. “We get the ball, we’re always looking down court because there’s always someone running the floor.”
Nick Summers scored a game-high 26 points for Tongue River, including 11 of 12 free throw attempts. TR converted 26 of 33 shots from the charity stripe as a team.
The Eagles were in unfamiliar territory with a 30-point lead at intermission, so they relaxed a bit to start the second half and allowed eight straight points, not making a field goal until Summers hit a 3 with 3:50 left in the third frame. The team recovered with an excellent fourth quarter to expand its lead, however.
Reish said the team is playing its best ball of the season and this weekend’s successes boosted its confidence.
His head coach agreed.
“We’ve been preaching all year (to) trust the process and eventually it’ll love you back,” Hanson said. “We just gotta keep on continuing doing that.”
With postseason competition less than two weeks away, the Eagles are trending upward at just the right time.
Tongue River plays Friday at Rocky Mountain at 5:30 p.m.
Riverside…………6 15 12 8 — 41
Tongue River…24 27 11 19 — 81
Riverside — H. Duncan 17, Williamson 7, Miller 6, C. Duncan 5, Mautz 4, Vigil 2
Tongue River — Summers 26, McCafferty 14, Reish 13, Cummins 9, Clair 9, McMeans 6, Rees 2, Bear Don’t Walk 2