By KEVIN THOMPSON
INGALLS When a 10-4 team goes against a team with just three wins, it's easy to overlook the underdog.
But the three-win Ingalls Bulldogs lived up to their mascot's tenacity and gave the visiting Hornets a good game before falling to Dighton 60-47.
Isaac Alinor had 20 points and Ryan Kuhlman 15 as the Hornets outlasted a smaller, undermanned Ingalls squad in a game that got closer a number of times than the final 13-point margin indicates.
Kuhlman and Alinor combined for 15 of Dighton's 31 first-half points, and the Hornets had a 13-point lead late in the second quarter.
But Ingalls put together a 7-0 run to end the half and nearly scored two more at the buzzer as the Bulldogs cut the lead to six at the break.
Dighton countered with 14 more by their hot duo in the third quarter, as the Hornets opened up a 17-point lead at that break, and 19 to start the fourth.
Ingalls fought back to within 11 with under three minutes to play, but neither team scored again until Matt Mulville's buzzer shot.
For the record, Dighton was 26-of-44 from the floor (59 percent), scoring right around its season average.
What surprised both coaches, however, was Ingalls going 20-of-41 (49 percent) with a lineup minus three starters due to a number of reasons.
"Our kids played hard. That's one of the things we've tried to work on all season is to play hard all the time," Dighton coach Earl Steffens said. "But Ingalls did an excellent job. They busted their butts playing defense. They worked the ball hard. They were a strong, physical team; they take after their coach."
Steffens said he told his team they would have to be ready for Ingalls, despite their three wins.
His team responded.
"I have excellent leadership," Steffens said. "Alinor is a three-year starter and Kuhlman is a four-year. Those are invaluable people to have around. They know what to do."
Ingalls coach Butch Nally was pleased with the effort, but they've been doing that all season, with some close losses.
"We did a lot of nice things tonight," he said. "We made some silly mistakes, but we did make some nice things happen."
The Bulldogs were close on rebounds (24-23) against a very athletic team, and that showed how much effort his team gave, Nally added.
Chad Myers led the Bulldogs with 15 points, including a pair of threes.
Zach Batman and Nathan Hale each chipped in 11.
Dighton committed 18 turnovers, four more than its average, but again, Steffens said, credit the hard play of Ingalls.
"They trapped us in the corner. They trapped all over. They did a nice job," he said.
But his team's pressure was even more effective, forcing 20 Bulldogs turnovers, many off a full-court press.
"The only things we want to do with our press is make sure they don't score off of it because it gets us running. It gets us moving, and that's when we play the best," he said.
Note: Kuhlman reached the 1000-point mark Tuesday in a loss at Oberlin and will receive the game ball at their home game against Wichita County.
Dighton 16 15 21 8 -- 60
Ingalls 9 16 10 12 -- 47
Dighton (11-4) Alinor 9 0-1 20, Horn 2 2-3 8, Kuhlman 6 3-4 15, Bollinger 1 0-0 2, Mulville 4 0-0 9, Torson 1 0-0 2, Burnett 2 0-0 4. Totals 26 3-8 60.
Ingalls (3-12) Myers 6 1-2 15, Batman 5 1-2 11, Baxa 1 0-0 2, Whipple 4 0-0 8, Hale 4 3-4 11. Totals 20 5-8 47.
3-pt. goals Dighton 5-10 (Alinor 2, Horn 2, Torson 1), Ingalls 2-6 (Meyers 2). Rebounds Dighton 24 (Alinor 4, Kuhlman 4, Burnett 4), Ingalls 23 (Hale 5, Batman 4). Turnovers Dighton 18, Ingalls 19. Fouled out Ingalls (BSandoval). Total fouls Dighton 13, Ingalls 15.