HERRIN — The No. 2 ranked Pinckneyville Panthers jumped out to a huge lead in the first half and cruised to an 81-35 win over Herrin in a cross River-to-River Conference boys basketball game on Saturday night.

"We just talked about not having a letdown after last night (at Du Quoin)," said Pinckneyville coach Bob Waggoner. "Even though we won we had some spurts where we had some lulls, so we wanted to play with more energy and try to put together more minutes and I thought we played a really complete first half. We kept them from getting into their offense and moved the ball well against their zone and went inside out and hit shots. When our shots are going in and our defense is playing good we’re hard to beat."

The Panthers improved to 9-0 while the Tigers dropped their fourth straight game to fall to 2-7.

Dawson Yates paced the Panthers with 22 points to tie his career best while J.C. Moll added 15, including three 3-pointers, and Kyle Kreger came off the bench to also make three 3-pointers and finish with 11 points.

"Tonight my teammates knew how to get me the ball," Yates said. "We have to thank coach because he prepared us better than anyone else could. Coach said we had to guard better and we had to make better adjustments than we did last night."

The Panthers finished with 10 3-pointers and were almost perfect from the free throw line making 9-of-10. Pinckneyville held a 25-18 advantage on the boards and finished with 12 steals, including four by Yates in the first quarter, that led to a total of 15 points.

"Turning the ball over (11 times) in the first quarter set the tone," said Herrin coach Sayler Shurtz. "The Pinckneyville Panthers came ready to play. They out-hustled us, they out-scrapped us and out-played us in every facet of the game. They pressured us into those turnovers that lead to a lot of those early points."

Pinckneyville led 9-4 after Drew Ringel had made two free throws for the Tigers with 4:51 remaining in the first quarter. The Tigers then went into a scoring slump that lasted 9:28 until Ringel scored again on a layup and a free throw with 3:23 remaining in the second quarter. Ringel led the Tigers with nine points.

During that drought, the Panthers scored 27 points, including converting on six steals for 12 points, as Pinckneyville forced the Tigers into 11 turnovers in the first quarter and another eight in the second.

During the 27-0 run that extended the lead to 36-4, with 3:48 remaining in the first half, Yates scored 10 points and had two steals while converting two of his teammates’ steals into fast break baskets and one of his own into two free throws.

Also during the run Moll, who had opened the game with a 3-pointer scored his second and added a third in the third quarter.

Hayden Holloway opened the third quarter by making two free throws to get the Tigers off to a good start, but Yates responded with a layup followed by a 3-pointer.

Ringel got the Tigers back on the board with two free throws, but back-to-back 3s by Kreger and Moll got the Panthers going again. Cameron Vaughn had a three-point play of his own for the Tigers on a putback and a free throw, but Moll stole the ball and fed Kyle Luke for a layup.

Yates sank his second 3-pointer before Bronson Nesler stole the ball and fed Trenton Stucker for a Tiger basket. With four seconds left Kreger swished a 3-pointer from left the left side to give the Panthers a 66-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Outbrain