By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — The last time the Ulysses Tigers and Scott City Beavers met in a boys basketball game, the Tigers found themselves leading by one point at halftime.
Then, a second-half explosion by the Beavers produced a 53-40 victory on the Tigers' home court.
In their second Great West Activities Conference contest on Tuesday night, the Beavers didn't trail at intermission, but were up by five.
And just like the earlier meeting, the Beavers exploded in the third quarter, reeling off the first 10 points while the Tigers went scoreless for nearly four minutes. Scott City put the game out of reach with an 18-3 lightning strike that eventually led to a runaway 64-45 victory.
The Beavers, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A and the defending state champions, improved to 14-1 while the Tigers, still struggling in recent weeks, are 8-7 overall.
For the two coaches — Glenn O'Neil of Scott City and Jason Jones of Ulysses — the game hinged on the opening three minutes of that pivotal third quarter.
"I told our kids at halftime that the first three minutes of the third would determine the outcome," Jones said. "The problem with that is that I was right, except for the wrong team. We put ourselves in position to compete, but you can't recover against a quality team like Scott and expect to stay in the game."
For O'Neil, it was a matter of finding the right rhythm to a game in which both teams sputtered early. The Beavers had not played in a week thanks to Friday's snow storm, when their game with TMP-Marian was postponed.
"We looked at times like we hadn't had a basketball in our hands for a while," O'Neil said. "But I think the first half reflected that you've got a lot of good athletes out on the floor, lots of quick hands and that caused some of the problems. You just kind of shake your head, but I thought the kids played hard. I wouldn't say we played well, we made some bad decisions, but that's the kind of style you get when you play Ulysses. Their kids fight you all the way and we always expect a tough game with them."
Junior forward Drew Kite, who had riddled the Tigers with 22 points in their first outing, came back with another stellar effort, scoring a game-high 17 points, pulling down seven rebounds and creating problems inside for Ulysses' big man, 6-5 Garrett Kissell. Kissell, who had answered Kite with 22 in that first meeting, managed 11 points and five rebounds but fouled out of the game when it was already out of reach.
For Jones, he will take the Tigers home and regroup for the final two weeks of the regular season.
"We've got a lot to play for in the next couple of weeks, and we host a sub-state (4A) which is big for us," Jones said. "We've just got to improve our decision making out on the court. Bottom line, this is frustrating, but you've got to move on."
O'Neil said he hoped the win would provide some much-needed momentum as the Beavers head down the stretch of the regular season.
"We got the win, we did some good things in the third quarter, but we can get better," O'Neil said. "That's the thing about this game. There's always something you can improve."
Kite got scoring support from junior guard Brett O'Neil with 16 points and his fellow frontcourt player Joey Meyer with 10 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 at the free throw line. Ulysses didn't have any other double-digit scorers. The Beavers were 20-of-42 from the field (47 percent) compared to 16-of-45 (35 percent) for the Tigers. Ulysses committed 21 turnovers to 17 for Scott City
Ulysses had jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, 8-2, only to have the Beavers fight their way back to tie it at 11 and then take a 16-13 lead after the first quarter.
Scott City built an eight-point lead, 28-20, with 2:55 remaining before halftime before the Tigers closed on a 6-3 mini-run to trim the deficit to 31-26 at the break.
Kite had a big first quarter for the Beavers, scoring 10 of his points in that opening stanza. Both teams struggled under the defensive pressure of the other, as the Tigers committed 13 first-half turnovers while the Beavers were guilty of 12 miscues.
Scott City travels to Hugoton on Friday while Ulysses hosts Goodland.
Beaver notes: Football took a brief center court spotlight prior to Tuesday night's tipoff when the Scott City Shriner's organization officially invited Colborn Couchman to participate in the 2012 Kansas Shrine Bowl this coming summer.
Couchman, a 6-3, 225-pound running back/linebacker, was The Telegram's 2011 Player of the Year.
Couchman said after the ceremony that he had decided to be a preferred walk-on at Kansas State University for the 2012 season.
Couchman indicated that the K-State coaching staff had told him that he would battle for a linebacker position for the Wildcats. If he progresses, Couchman would be eligible for a scholarship in the fall.
Ulysses 13 13 3 16 -- 45
Scott City 16 15 18 15 -- 64
Ulysses (8-7) — Galindo 0-2 0-0 0, Newell 2-4 1-2 6, Porras 1-2 2-2 4, Kissell 5-7 1-3 11, Zerr 2-14 2-2 7, Jarnagin 3-6 0-0 8, Meierhoff 1-2 0-0 3, Annis 1-3 1-2 3, Walters 0-3 0-0 0, Medina 1-1 0-0 2, Stringham 0-1 0-0 0, Watie 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 16-45 8-13 45.
Scott City (14-1) — B. O'Neil 6-15 3-4 16, T. O'neil 1-4 4-6 7, Yager 0-0 0-0 0, Robinson 2-5 0-0 4, Clinton 0-1 2-2 2, Hess 1-1 0-0 2, Habiger 2-2 0-1 6, Wilson 0-1 0-0 0, Meyer 2-4 6-6 10, Kite 6-8 5-6 17, Ratzlaff 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-42 20-25 64.
3-point goals--Ulysses 5-16 (Galindo 0-1, Newell 1-2, Porras 0-1, Zerr 1-7, Jarnagin 2-3, Meierhoff 1-1, Stringham 0-1), Scott City 4-10 (B. O'neil 1-4, T. O'Neil 1-4, Habiger 2-2). Rebounds--Ulysses 27 (Kissell 5, Annis 5), Scott City 28 (Kite 7). Turnovers--Ulysses 21, Scott City 17. Fouls--Ulysses 21, Scott City 15. Fouled out--Ulysses (Kissell). Technical fouls--Ulysses bench.