After two tough games to open play in the Clever Invitational, the Aurora Houn' Dawgs rolled to a convincing 74-58 win over Crane in the seventh-place game on Saturday.
The previous evening, the Dawgs played evenly with the host team through three quarters but fell three points short of advancing to the consolation game with a 54-51 loss.
Faced with the possibility of finishing last in the tournament, Aurora played its best game yet under new head coach Dylan Curtis.
Thanks to good inside play by senior Matthew Miller and junior Kaden Clark, the Dawgs took an early 8-1 lead in the first quarter. Crane managed to close the gap a little, but Aurora still led 17-12 at the end of the period.
The Houn' Dawgs maintained the lead through the second quarter, as well, despite full court pressure by the Pirates and a double-team or more on Miller at all times. At halftime, Aurora led 28-20, and the Dawgs increased the lead even further in the third, entering the final frame up 47-33.
In spite of some chirping by the Crane bench players on Aurora's defensive end, the Houn' Dawgs were able to maintain their focus to see out the final quarter, sealing the seventh-place finish with a 74-58 victory.
Miller finished as the game's leading scorer with 25 points, while senior Clayton Dunning and junior Austin Hartwigsen added 12 each. Clark and senior Austin Erickson added eight points apiece, while juniors Casey Weathermon and Logan Lauffer contributed five and four points, respectively.
Aurora will host Hartville in a 6 p.m. matchup on Friday before traveling to Hollister on Tuesday.