The start to the second half of Wednesday night’s meeting with Kearney at William Jewell College’s 33rd annual American Family Insurance Holiday Basketball Classic probably didn’t go the way the Patriots would have liked.

The start to the second half of Wednesday night’s meeting with Kearney at William Jewell College’s 33rd annual American Family Insurance Holiday Basketball Classic probably didn’t go the way the Patriots would have liked.

The ending probably did.

Leading 30-24 at halftime, the No. 3-seeded Patriots watched the Bulldogs open the second half with a 9-0 run and then gutted out the remainder of the third quarter to lead 42-38 at quarter’s end. They then took control, outscoring the Bulldogs 16-3 the final quarter for a 58-41 first-round victory in Nelson Division play at William Jewell’s Mabee Center.

“We know what we’re capable of and we know what we can do – and we just weren’t cutting it,” said senior Zach Huber, who contributed 16 points to the victory. “And we knew we could do better. And so, we came out and really tried to work harder on D.”

Early on, it appeared the Patriots wouldn’t need to rally to win. Sparked by an 11-2 opening run, they led 19-9 after one quarter. But then, the Bulldogs outscored them to make it a six-point ballgame at halftime.

It was a seesaw affair for a few minutes after the Bulldogs posted their opening run. Truman broke a 38-38 tie with two late buckets to take its four-point lead into the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got to get the first four minutes of the first quarter and the third quarter,” Huber said. “That’s really important to us – and we know it’s really important to (winning) basketball games. … So we just really tried to work hard on D, get the boards.”

Lane Titus helped spark Truman’s 16-2 fourth quarter by scoring seven of his 16 total points during the quarter to help the Patriots advance to face Liberty in the division semifinals at 9 p.m. Friday. Liberty cruised past Raytown 60-42 Wednesday night.

Looking to the next round, Huber commented: “The history here at the Jewell tournament’s a pretty big deal. … We’re excited to be there.”