Senior Jamon Miller scored 10 points, while junior Patrick Fultz had nine points and sophomores Zion Crowe and R.J. Griffin each had eight points as the Braves saw their five-game winning streak snapped.
Jonathan Alder jumped out to a 14-4 first quarter lead, forcing an early Shawnee timeout. The Pioneers led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter.
“They came out and they were ready to go,” McGuire said. “They executed and we broke down a lot. That led to a lot of easy baskets for them. I don’t know how many layups they shot, but they shot a ton of layups. Not just in the first half, but the entire night, they just got better shots than we did because they executed.”
The Braves went on a 13-4 run, cutting the lead to eight points on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Griffin with about five minutes to play.
“We spent a lot of energy trying to get back into the game,” McGuire said. “I credit our guys. They played hard. They really stayed with it. They never quit, but you’ve got to execute. We knew that was going to be a big thing for us. We said the team that made the fewest mistakes was going to win this game and they made fewer mistakes than we did.”
Unfortunately, the Braves weren’t able to get any closer.
“We knew tempo was going to be key,” McGuire said. “I thought we wore them down a little bit. They made some uncharacteristic mistakes and we were able to feed off that and hit some timely shots. When you’ve got so far to go and you give up a bucket and it’s back to 10 or 12, it takes the wind out of your sail a little bit. I give our guys credit. They never stopped fighting.”
The Braves (5-1, 3-1) were scheduled to play their first home game on Saturday against Southeastern due to the construction project at Shawnee High School. They’ll play 10 games in January, including seven at home. They’ve got to keep improving to stay in the division title race, McGuire said. Shawnee is seeking its first division title since 2015.
“We’ve got to continue to get better and take care of our business,” McGuire said. “We’ve got to take it one game at a time. We’ll get another shot at these guys at some point.”