By KEVIN THOMPSON
INGALLS — For two quarters, Ingalls looked like a team on a mission.
By the looks of the final score, mission accomplished.
The Bulldogs pulled off a 54-19 first-round win in Class 1A Division II sub-state play Tuesday over Pawnee Heights.
The win sets them up for a Friday night match-up against Moscow on the Wildcats' home floor.
The best thing about this win, according to coach Butch Nally, was seeing his team get loose, run the floor, run some different defensive sets, and generally take care of business.
When a team gets to this stage of the season, every little bit helps.
"We go one a time," Nally said. "We got the first one out of the way. Now let's go get another one."
His team got the win with solid play after a slow start. The middle two quarters showcased the Bulldog team that Ingalls wanted to send into the semifinal match-up.
Leading just 11-7 after the first quarter, the offense struck for 21 points, the defense held Pawnee Heights to just four, and Ingalls basically had its way with the Tigers.
With Pawnee Heights playing a zone defense, Ingalls went to work on perimeter passing, looking to go inside whenever possible.
In the second, the Ingalls offense went 9 for-13 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Leading the aerial attack were Dalton Brooks with eight points (including a pair of three's) and Kaleb Batman with six.
Just as important, the Bulldogs' defense limited Pawnee Heights to just two field goals on only eight attempts and forced five turnovers.
Ingalls' four-point lead jumped to 17 by halftime, 32-15.
The third quarter featured more of the same as the offense scored 19 points, the defense allowed just six, and the Tigers (0-20) turned the ball over nine times, thanks in part to a pressure and trap defense by the Bulldogs that led to four fastbreak layups.
In those two quarters, Ingalls shot 64 percent (16-for-25).
This was just the game the Bulldogs were looking for at this time.
"It was a good win for us," Brooks said. "We're the team that runs. We're not the team that just plays offense. We like to bring it down. And that's what we started doing in the second quarter."
Batman, who was 7-of-9 from the floor to lead his team with 15 points, said the Bulldogs' inside-outside game on this night was a good offensive balance and a great answer to the defense that faced them.
"We try to get as many inside touches as we can," he said. "But if the guy's open and he's feeling it, we take it."
For Nally, a first-round game like this was just what his team needed, allowing them to work on things they've been practicing, but against a different group of players.
"Our confidence has been growing bit by bit," Nally said. "Now we just have to keep it going, one game at a time."
About the only thing wrong with this game, Nally said, was the first quarter, where his team made too many mistakes and the Tigers started with more energy. But they got on track and took control after that.
Behind Batman's 15 points were Jordan Irsik with 13 and Brooks with 11.
Next up is Moscow (11-8), a team Ingalls lost to 61-38 to open the season.
"It's going to be a tough one," Brooks said.
Pawnee Heights 7 4 6 2 -- 19
Ingalls 11 21 19 3 -- 54
Pawnee Heights — Schmitz 0 2-4 2, Spence 1 4-9 6, Auker 1 0-0 2, Clapham 1 0-0 2, Vesterling 3 1-2 7. Totals 6 7-15 19.
Ingalls — Vanderree 2 1-2 6, Batman 7 1-2 15, Brooks 3 0-0 9, Martinez 1 0-0 2, Irsik 5 2-4 13, Thompson 1 0-0 3, Hale 2 0-0 4. Totals 23 4-8 54.
3-point goals — Pawnee Heights 0-5, Ingalls 5-15 (Batman 1, Brooks 3, Irsik 1). Rebounds - Pawnee Heights 13 (Vesterling 6), Ingalls 17 (Irsik 6). Turnovers - Pawnee Heights 20, Ingalls 7. Total fouls - Pawnee Heights 7, Ingalls 13. Fouled out - none. Technical fouls - Pawnee Heights 1 (bench).