INGOMAR • The Ingomar Falcons, last season’s MHSAA Class 1A boys state basketball champion, stumbled a little on their first step to defending their title.

Ingomar (26-5) defeated visiting Hickory Flat by a convincing 65-33 score, but coach Jonathan Ashley was expecting a lot more from his team.

“Survive. That’s what you do this time of year. If you don’t survive, you don’t have to worry about tomorrow,” he said.

Ingomar will host Pine Grove at 7 p.m. Thursday in the second round.

Hickory Flat opened with a slow pace and trailed 14-5 through the first quarter. A late putback and a 3-pointer from the baseline by senior Zach Shugars gave the Falcons their nine-point lead.

The Falcons pushed that lead to 28-10 by halftime, then put the Rebels away with a 20-point third quarter.

“We were prepared for (the slow down), but we were mentally slow. I don’t know if it’s arrogance, 10-day (snow/ice) layoff, or what the problem was,” Ashley said. “We got a group out there to press them and try to speed the game up.”

Shugars scored a game-high 21 points. Tyson Smithey added 13. Kyle Robertson and D.J. Beard came off the bench to added nine and eight points respectively.

(G) Ingomar 68, Ashland 17

Eighth grade guard/forward Macie Phifer scored 23 points in the first quarter to help give the Lady Falcons (19-9) their large lead.

Ingomar will host defending 1A state champion Pine Grove at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the second round.

Kaylee Johnson and T’nya Jones added 12 points apiece and Anna Lauren Glasson scored eight for the Lady Falcons.

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