"I thought from the second quarter on we played really well," said Pierce City coach Matt Street. "We stepped up our defensive intensity and finished in transition. Tonight was a step in the right direction."
Foul trouble and stagnate ball movement caused the Eagles to get off to a slow start. Pierce City's center Cody Fitchpatrick picked up two quick fouls, and his backup Ian Brottlund was also saddled with two fouls early in the contest.
Action picked up in the second period with each team trading baskets over the first five minutes.
With 2:45 left in the first half and clinging to a 18-16 lead, Street took a calculated risk and put Fitchpatrick back in the game.
Like a sparkplug helps start and run an engine, Fitchpatick ignited the Eagles. Fitchpatrick scored on Pierce City's first offensive possession after his return to the game. Then he picked up a charge on the ensuing defensive stand and dished out an assist. The next time down the floor, Fitchpatrick tipped out a missed shot to teammate Kole Kelley who drilled a 3-pointer. In two minutes, the Eagles took a two-point lead and swelled it to a 31-21 halftime advantage.
"Because of the early foul trouble, it felt like we brought Cody off the bench," said Street. "Cody was the spark we needed to get going. All our post players -- Ian, Ryan and Cody -- played hard tonight. Even though you may not see it on the stat sheet, they did the dirty work and little things that made this victory possible."
Pierce City opened the third period on a tear. Zack Hyde scored the first 7 points of the half as the Eagles doubled up the Tigers with a 20-10 run. Pierce City forced eight Lockwood turnovers in the third period alone, and Pierce City iced the game away.
"I told the boys at halftime that we had to play defense like we did in the first half of the season," said Street. "It was good to see our game plan put into action."
Isaac Spain led the Tigers in scoring with 11 points. Kyle Knierim added 8 points.
Scoring for Pierce City were: Sooter, 20; Hyde, 11; Kelley, 10; Turner and Colton Drollinger, 6 each; Fitchpatrick, 4; and Colin Garner, 3.
Pierce City will host Sarcoxie on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.