DAYTON — Friday marked 2018’s Groundhog Day, a holiday that involves enthusiasts waiting eagerly to see if Punxsutawney Phil over in Pennsylvania will see his shadow or not.
If the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, he remains outside his den as spring has come early. If he does, Phil returns to his den for another six weeks of winter.
Phil returned to his den this morning after seeing said shadow, and Upton made the Tongue River boys basketball team want to find a nice dark and quiet place after the Bobcats handed the Eagles an 83-65 beatdown.
“This has been a common theme. They’ve had our number, but we’ve also made it easy on them,” Tongue River head coach Ronnie Stewart said. “We were not able to close out. We were not able to stop dribble penetration. We were not able to protect high post. We gave them wide open jump shots. We didn’t communicate on defense.
“There really wasn’t anything good on defense.”
The Bobcats popped in eight 3-pointers, got out in transition for easy buckets, and even despite a size disparity, got plenty of work done in the paint.
Tongue River wanted to use its size advantage — 6-foot-6 Hugh Patterson, 6-3 Jaren Fritz and 6-3 Sam Patterson — to its benefit. And while the Eagles exploited those matchups early, Upton took many of those opportunities away as the night progressed.
“We wanted to get the ball down low, and that’s what we did,” Stewart said. “They made some adjustments and we were not able to swing the ball around; we got into a panic and we started playing their game, which was something we didn’t want to do.
“We have a huge size advantage, and that goes back to showing that self discipline to show that we can be patient enough.”
Hugh Patterson still navigated his way to a 15-point night, but Fritz — who poured in a combined 65 points in the previous two games — scored 12 of his 19 from beyond the 3-point arc. Jay Keo added 12 points for Tongue River.
Hugh Patterson received the ball early and often as the Eagles scored the game’s first six points. Patterson’s sixth point of the night gave Tongue River a 20-18 lead with 1:43 to play in the opening quarter, and that represented the Eagles’ last lead.
The Bobcats closed the opening period on an 8-1 run to gain the upper hand. A 7-1 spurt to open the second stanza gave Upton its first double-digit lead at 31-20 with 3:59 left in the first half. The Bobcats scored seven unanswered in a two-minute span later in the quarter and led 41-26 at halftime.
Tongue River couldn’t gain any ground — only stringing together back-to-back field goals once in the third frame — as Upton pushed its lead out to 64-45 ahead of the fourth quarter.
The Bobcats kept their distance in the game’s final eight minutes in a win that vaulted them in front of Tongue River in the conference. Upton improved to 3-2 in conference, while the Eagles dropped to that same 3-2 mark.
“We obviously didn’t play to our full potential,” Hugh Patterson said. “I think we just need to keep our heads up and we’ll improve.
“I think we still have a good chance at taking conference.”
Tongue River hosts Wright Saturday to begin the second round of conference play. The Panthers mauled the Eagles 84-48 in the two teams’ conference opener Jan. 19.
Upton…………..24 17 23 19 — 83
Tongue River….19 7 19 20 — 65
Upton — Louderback 25, Watt 24, Claycomb 17, Bruce 9, Barritt 8, Butts 3
Tongue River — Fritz 19, H. Patterson 15, Keo 12, Rees 5, Reish 3, Richards 3, Perfetti 2, Summers 2, Dillon-Bennett 2, S. Patterson 2