Before the season began, first-year Pioneers coach Brian Schoonover said his team will be better than expected.

The Pioneers are coming off just a three-win season and have been predicted to finish toward the bottom of the Big Eight conference.

The Boonville Pioneers might have proven their naysayers wrong after the first game of the season as they gave the Castle Knights all they could handle in a 77-60 loss on Nov. 28.

The final score is no indication of how the Pioneers played.

The Pioneers opened the game with an 11-2 lead over the Knights after a Glen Rouch three.

This was Rouch's second three in the first five minutes of the game. The USI commit finished the game with 26 points including 16 in the first half. The Pioneers had a 23-15 lead after the first quarter.

"I thought we were a little nervous starting out the game," Castle coach Brian Gibson said. "But give Boonville credit, we were not ready to match their intensity."

The second quarter saw Boonville build upon their lead to go up by 13 at 40-27. Castle, however, went on a 7-0 run to end the quarter and Boonville was up 40-34 going into halftime.

The start of the second half became the turning point of the game as Castle begin the half on a 12-0 run. Despite the run, the Knights were only up 55-48 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter saw the Knights stretch its lead.

After the Knights Alex Hemenway converted a free throw on a three point play, the score was 63-50. About midway through the quarter, you could hear Knights coach Gibson saying, "Bring it back, we got the lead." He was telling his team to take time off the clock by passing the ball around and spacing the floor.

Hemenway led four Knights in double figures with 29 points including 21 in the second half. Triston Wilkinson contributed with 13 while Jace Steiler and Zach Messinger each had 12.

Besides Rouch scoring 26, Ben Meyer also finished the game with 13 for the Pioneers.

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