The Mountain Home Tigers continue to improve and played perhaps their best game of the season at Jerome, but a bad third quarter put them in a deficit they were unable to climb out of, as they lost to the Jerome Tigers 58-52 Friday afternoon.
Mountain Home showed no affects of the holiday break at Jerome as they trailed 11-10 after a quarter. They grabbed the lead in the second quarter and led 23-21 at the half.
Jerome came out and scored six quick points in the third quarter to lead 27-23.
Jeremy Hopper's basket with 5:35 left in the quarter cut the deficit to two, 27-25. Mountain Home would score just two more points in the quarter, however, on Tyler Elliott's basket with 1:46 left that made it 31-27 Jerome.
The Jerome Tigers then went on a 9-0 run to end the quarter and move out to a 40-27 lead after three.
Mountain Home's fourth-quarter rally came a bit too late. The team trailed 52-38 with 2:45 left, then went on an 8-0 run to come within six, 52-46. They got within six two other times, 54-48 and 58-52, but could come no closer, as Jerome sank six of eight free throws down the stretch.
"The kids worked hard and they got better, that's for sure," said Tiger basketball coach Brion Bethel after the game.
"We had a lapse in the third quarter that really hurt us, but they're getting better, so I can't complain," he added. "They're passing well, they're looking for their teammates, they're knocking down some shots, so they're getting better.
"We've just got to take advantage of our possessions, but we scored some points and rebounded better, so I can't complain too much."
Doug Long led the Tigers in scoring with a season-high 13 points. Michael Daniels added 11. Jeremy Hopper scored eight points, Cristian Riedel six and Tyler Elliott four.
Mountain Home shot 44 percent from the field, including two of 10 three-pointers. They hit 64 percent from the free throw line.
Jerome shot 51 percent from the field and hit two of 12 on treys. That connected on 14 of 25 from the foul line.
Jerome had a slight edge on rebounds, 25-19. Jose Rodriguez led Mountain Home with eight rebounds.
The Tigers get back into conference play this week. They host Emmett today, Jan. 2, and travel to Columbia on Friday night.
"I think the guys are fired up and they're playing hard," said Coach Bethel after the Jerome game. "We go into the locker room saying there are no moral victories, but every game we challenge ourselves to get better and I think we got better today.
"I think we're seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully we'll start getting some victories."