Spring Valley wanted the ball in the hands of 6-foot-4 Jason Kilgore on Friday night. The junior for the Timberwolves did not disappoint.
Though Princeton had protecting the post as its main mission, Kilgore was not to be denied, scoring 27 points in Spring Valley’s 68-55 win on the Coach Ralph Ball Court.
“Jacob Kilgore is a very nice player for us,” said Spring Valley (3-3) head coach Cory Maynard. “He’s really (come) on really strong in the last few games.”
Princeton (4-6) head coach Ernie Gilliard said, “What we wanted to do was to limit his touches. We told them specifically what they were going to run for him, and he did a real good job of posting up.
“We had to make sure we denied that post, and we never denied his post at all.”
“Our kids knew, going in, that he was a tremendous shooter from outside, and we gave him too many looks, uncontested jump shots. They did exactly what they needed to do to win — and we didn’t.”
The other player wearing jersey No. 33, Princeton’s Aaron Ferguson, scored 14 points and got respectful comments from Kilgore after the game.
Kilgore said, “It was a good matchup. He (Ferguson) is a really good player. He crashes the boards real hard. I had to make sure I boxed him out.” He added, “He altered my shots.”
Princeton quickly fell behind 6-0, missing its first four shots and allowing the visitors to get the rebound each time.
Colton Fix scored the six of the Tigers’ first seven points and gave the home team its only lead, 7-6, with a layup and a foul shot with 4:25 gone in the game. Spring Valley hit seven of nine field goal tries and led 16-13 after one stanza.
Princeton nibbled away at Spring Valley’s lead late in the first half, with Ferguson going 3 for 4 at the foul line, to cut the margin to 30-25.
Kilgore got an outlet pass off a rebound with only a couple of seconds left, however, and heaved a shot two-thirds the length of the court at the buzzer.
It zipped through the twine, and the Timberwolves led by eight.
In the third quarter, the visitors gained their first double-digit lead at 36-25 with foul shots, as the refs called six fouls in fewer than three minutes.
Kilgore said, “We came out (in the second half) and we wanted to push it inside. We had a couple of mismatches underneath, me not being one of them.
“(Greg) Herbert was one of them. He had a smaller guy (on him). We wanted to just push it on him, and keep the energy up.”
The Tigers sped up the tempo and went on an 11-1 streak, ending with a 3-pointer from beyond the key by Ian Southcott with 1:01 left in the quarter, making the score 43-41.
A quick jumper by Fix cut Spring Valley’s lead to 44-43.
But Kilgore got the ball again, and coolly hit a baseline jumper with Ferguson in his face as time ran out, giving the Timberwolves a 46-43 edge.
Maynard said that at the end of the third quarter, “What I told them was, we’ve got to keep defending and we’ve got to keep doing what we do offensively.”
Princeton opened the final period missing six field-goal tries, and Spring Valley capitalized with eight straight points.
The Tigers clawed back to within six points, 59-53, on Fix’s last 3-pointer with 1:05 left, but Spring Valley went 9 for 10 in free throws after that to ice the game — with Kilgore hitting their final three.
To sum up the game, Gilliard said, “It’s execution. One word. When we execute, when we do the things we’re supposed to do, when we compete, when we work, then we’re a pretty good basketball team.
“Plain and simple, we’ve had two teams to come in here this week and beat us, basically, by out-working us.”
“I believe our personnel can match up with both of those teams well. The only thing is, those other kids wanted it a little more than ours did.”
Maynard said about Ferguson and Zen Clements, “Their big guys, we knew we had to defend them, do a good job on them.”
“(Fix) had a pretty good first half, and hit some big shots. They shot the ball pretty well from the perimeter. They came up and hit some big shots.”
Gilliard said, “Those are the kind of things we try to prepare our kids for. We knew, by us having a solid inside game, that teams were going to start packing it in and giving us those shots out there.”
“Colton Fix has been steadily improving, Ian Southcott’s shooting has been steadily improving. So that’s a plus, on a very bad night. We’ll have to count the performance of those two guys as a positive.
“But there weren’t many positives for us out there tonight.”
Fix ended with 19 points and Southcott had 12 points, all of them coming from behind the 3-point arc.
Maynard said, “Princeton’s a very well coached team, for one. Ernie does a great job with them.”
“We’ve been in so many close ballgames, and we’re finally starting to understand the situations ... and finally get over the hump. Instead of losing those 2- and 3-point ballgames, we’re winning those close games.”
Gilliard said, “We have to come out and match the other team’s intensity. We have to come out and play hard. And it starts with practice. When we had that four-game win streak, it’s because we had good practices.
“Now we’ve gone back to the old way of doing business — being lackadaisical, and not being mentally focused, and not bringing any energy to practice. When you have energy in practice, it carries over to the game.”
The Tigers will try to halt their three-game losing streak on the road next week, at St. Albans on Tuesday and at George Washington on Thursday.
At Coach Ralph Ball Court
Jacob Kilgore 8 10-12 27, Greg Herbert 6 6-9 18, Austin Keyser 4 2-2 10, Josh Steele 2 1-2 5, Caiden Conley 1 0-0 2, Tucker Meade 2 2-2 6. Totals 23 21-27 68.
Colton Fix 7 1-2 19, Ian Southcott 4 0-0 12, Jay Palmer 1 0-0 2, Zen Clements 1 3-5 5, Ashton O’dell 0 0-1 0, Logan McKinney 1 1-2 3, Aaron Ferguson 5 4-6 14. Totals 19 9-16 55.
Spring Valley................16 17 11 22 — 68
Princeton.....................13 12 18 12 — 55
3-point goals — SV 1 (Kilgore 1). PSHS 8 (Fix 4, Southcott 4). Fouled out — PSHS, O’dell. Technical fouls — none.