It wasn't smooth sailing, but the Oliver Ames boys basketball team was able to scratch and claw its way to an important Davenport Division victory Friday night in its home opener.
The Tigers caged the Bulldogs in the 50-41 victory, which proved to be a defensive battle from the beginning.
"I thought defensively we were good all night," Oliver Ames coach Don Byron said. "They had only 20 points in the first half and came back with an equally good second half."
OA's defense held the Bulldogs in check while the offense was able to pull away with enough points to win. The effort was well-rounded. Only one Tiger, sophomore Ryan Carney (11 points), finished the game with double-digits. Nick Cidado (9 pts) St. Claire Ryan (8 pts), Andrew Reardon (8 pts), and Chris Duggan (6 pts) all contributed for the Tigers.
Byron said the Tigers, who lost last year's leading scorer Nick Bruha to graduation, are still working to find a rhythm on the offensive side of the court.
"Offensively, we have played three games and we haven’t really clicked on the offensive side," he said. "We’re fighting ourselves a bit on the offensive side."
For the Bulldogs, who dropped to 0-3 on the year, it was a frustrating night.
Despite keeping it close, and even pulling ahead once during a 6-0 run to start the second quarter, the Bulldogs were never able to fully propel the momentum their way. Canton trailed after every quarter.
"We were missing that dagger shot that would have tied the game or put us within one," Canton coach Ryan Gordy said. "We inched close and got the game within three on a variety of possessions and just couldn’t get over the hump."
Despite the loss, Gordy said his team played "phenomenal" defense, keeping a good OA team in check.
Canton captain Sam Larson finished with 22 points, but Gordy is looking for someone to step up to compliment his offensive go-to man.
"Our biggest issue is we need to find that other guy right now," he said. "Everyone knows we have Larson. Larson is great, but who is going to be the next guy that can put up 12, 13, 14 on a consistent basis? Right now we don’t have that."
Canton will look to rebound when it travels to Pembroke next Friday.
The Tigers will host the Muscato Tournament beginning next Thursday. First on tap: cross-town Southeastern Regional.