01-03 prairiland hg

Pictured, Prairiland guard Brayden Nichols dribbles around Honey Grove defender Jordan Woods in the teams’ game this week.

PATTONVILLE — It was a battle of two proud Red River Valley teams this week when the Prairiland Patriots and Honey Grove Warriors basketball teams faced off. Ultimately, it was the Patriots who won 38-26 on the back of a strong opening period and a late surge, but the pesky Warrior defense made them fight for every inch they took.

The first quarter started about as well for the Patriots as they could have hoped. They intercepted several lazy Honey Grove passes and made the most out of their opponents’ miscues, scoring point after point in the fast break.

Even when they weren’t forcing turnovers, the Patriot defense was still on point, contesting nearly every shot Honey Grove put up.

“Defense is a mindset,” Prairiland senior guard Eli Rolen said. “It’s not something you just say you’re going to do. It’s something you practice, and you go out there and do, playing energetic and going all out.”

By the time the opening quarter ended, Prairiland had skunked Honey Grove, leading 10-0.

To Honey Grove’s credit, though, the Warrior defense was also excellent. The Patriots found great success scoring in transition, but when operating out of the half-court, the Warriors matched their opponent’s defensive intensity, giving Prairiland no easy baskets.

“That’s one thing we can hang our hats on is defense,” Honey Grove coach Homer Garner said. “You can always give effort defensively, and I’m proud of how my guys did today.”

The Patriots built their lead up to 18-0 in the second quarter before Honey Grove got on the board with a pair of free throws from senior Ki Bass.

Honey Grove ended the first half on a little something of a run, going into the break trailing 21-9.

They carried that momentum into the second half, and were even able to cut the lead to single digits, with points coming from Bass, who finished the game with 11 points, and senior Ben Patrick.

The Warriors kept the game around an 11-point margin for most of the third and fourth quarters, but a late push by Prairiland pushed the lead back up to as many as 14, en route to their 12-point win.

“I was really pleased with how we played today,” Prairiland head coach Steven Weddle said. “I think we’re playing really good team ball right now, and I’m excited.”

Tommy Culkin is sports editor for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at tommy.culkin@theparisnews.com.

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