Dove brothers lead Princeton past Pike Central, 74-32

Grant Essenmacher/Daily Clarion Princeton Community senior forward and Army West Point commit Matt Dove (32) gathers the ball while being covered by two Pike Central defenders during Saturday's game.

PETERSBURG-- It was a brotherly affair late Saturday night in Petersburg, as the forward combination of Zach and Matt Dove helped the Princeton Community boys basketball team get their third victory of the season. The Tigers defeated the Pike Central Chargers, 74-32.

Both Zach and Matt scored 19 points, to lead the way for Princeton. The duo got going early, as eight points from Zach and four from Matt helped the Tigers get out to a 23-10 lead after one quarter.

"I wanted us to come out and play hard. That was number one. Don't take them lightly, don't come out and go through the motions, come out and compete. Pike Central plays hard. I thought from that aspect, that standpoint, I thought we came out with a pretty high energy level and I was happy with that early on," Princeton Community head coach Ryan Haywood said.

The Tigers pressing the length of the court caused Pike Central problems, and it led to many transition buckets throughout the first half. Senior guards Stephan Wilkerson and Hunter Carey both got going as the half went on. Wilkerson scored eight points in the second quarter, and Carey had seven in the first, giving Princeton four players with over seven at the break. They led 42-18.

Come the third quarter, the Tigers kept the energy level high. The tone was set on the first basket of the half, as Matt Dove threw down a two-handed slam to keep the intensity up for the Tigers. From there it was tough for Pike Central to get anything going, as Princeton expanded it's lead to 35 after three quarters, 61-26.

"I just wanted to play halfcourt, man-to-man defense, and I wanted us to be good at it," Haywood said of his teams focus in the second half. "I didn't think defensively we were very good besides the press in the first half. I thought defensively we were better in the second half."

While Matt Dove had his 19 points poured in through three quarters, it was nine fourth quarter points from brother Zach that put things away for good. Wilkerson finished with 13 points while Carey ended with 10 to give Princeton four double-figure scorers.

"We came and we took care of business, and that's what we said the great teams do. It doesn't matter who's in front of ya, if you're a hammer everybody looks like a nail, it doesn't matter who they throw in front of you," Haywood said.

Princeton now sits at 3-0 and has beaten its opponents by an average of 27 points. Things are going to get much tougher beginning next Friday, when they will travel to AP Class 3A No. 3 Evansville Bosse (1-1). The following day they'll play in the River City Classic, at 2 p.m. against Evansville Harrison (1-1), another SIAC power.

"I think we're very confident that we can go there and compete at a high level with them. Will we win both games? I don't know. I know we'll be able to go over there and compete. Two tough games, two great programs, two teams loaded with a ton of athleticism, I don't know what will happen obviously, but I know we'll be ready to compete against two really great teams," Haywood said.

The game at Bosse will tip at 7 p.m. Friday Dec. 7, while the Harrison game will tip around 17 hours later at 2 p.m. Saturday from the Ford Center.

"We'll treat it kind of as a regional type deal. If you have aspirations of winning a regional, you're going to play two games in one day. So you better be able to turn around and play back-to-back days."

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