GROVE - It may not be pretty, but the Grove Ridgerunners keep finding ways to win.
Despite scoring just 12 points in the second half, the Ridgerunners held on, surviving a missed layup by the visiting Miami Wardogs with seconds to play to escape with a 33-32 win.
The victory was the third in a row for the Ridgerunners under rookie head coach Zach Trimble.
"As long as we find a way to win, that's all that matters," Trimble said. "Three games in a row now we've played well early, built leads, and let the other team back in it, but down the stretch we made enough shots and our defense has been outstanding."
That was certainly the case Tuesday night, as the Ridgerunners held their third straight opponent in the 30s. The Wardogs scored just 10 points in the first half as Grove (3-1) built a 21-10 lead at halftime.
Levi Benge provided the spark for the Ridgerunners offensively, connecting on three 3-pointers in the first half.
"He has that ability," Trimble said. "His confidence level isn't there yet, but it's getting there. He's gotta be more aggressive and look for his shot."
The Wardogs got back into the game with some outside shooting of their own, with Beau Bussey hitting four straight from behind the arc as Miami outscored Grove 18-8 in the third quarter to close to within one.
That set up a fourth quarter that was short on points but had plenty of drama. A pair of free throws by Wyatt Rathjen finally pulled the Wardogs even at 32 with 3:10. Both teams would miss plenty of opportunities to score more points before Tanner Stroud finally broke the tie by making one of two free throws with 47 seconds left.
The Ridgerunners made just 5-of-18 from free throw line, while the Wardogs made 2-of-10.
"If we can just make a few free throws, then it doesn't come down to making a stop in the last nine seconds," Trimble said.
Benge finished with 12 points for Grove, along with Kyle Summerfield. Bussey finished with 12 points to lead the Wardogs, while Garret Castor finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Grove 53, Miami 33 (girls)
The Lady Ridgerunners used their inside muscle to dominate the Lady Wardogs from beginning to end in winning their fourth straight game Tuesday.
Grove outrebounded Miami 33-14 on the night, while getting a combined 42 points from the inside trio of Kat Johnson, Mason Jeffries and Taylor Dodson.
Dodson got things started for Grove with four points and an assist in the first three minutes as the Lady Ridgerunners jumped out to a 6-2 lead.
Jeffries would then get into the act with eight points of her own in the opening quarter as Grove took a 15-5 lead.
Grove would continue to push their lead in the second quarter, getting four each from Dodson and Johnson to lead by as much as 23 before settling for a 31-13 cushion at the break.
In the third quarter Johnson took over, scoring 10 points in the period as Grove put the game out of reach.
Johnson finished with a game-high 17 while Dodson had 13 and Jeffries 12.
Kelcee Welch finished with 11 points for Miami, while Michaela Martin added eight.
The Grove basketball teams will host Vinita on Friday with the girls tipping off at 6:30 p.m.