SCOTTVILLE — It was a defensive battle, and Mason County Central got the worst of it Monday night when Shelby pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 43-24 victory in the West Michigan Conference at Scottville.

Both teams were focused on defense from the start, but the Tigers kept the Spartans’ offense handcuffed the entire game after taking a 6-2 lead in the first quarter.

The Tigers increased their scoring by four points in the second period and outscored the Spartans, 10-8 to take a 16-10 lead at the half.

Scoring picked up slightly in the third quarter, and again it was the Tigers gaining the advantage, outscoring the Spartans,, 12-9 to extend their lead to nine points, 28-19 entering the fourth quarter.

The Tigers had a 15-5 edge in the final eight minutes.

Joe Hayes fired in a game-high 21 points for the Tigers. He also hauled down seven rebounds. Mason Garcia contributed 11 points and grabbed six rebounds.

For the Spartans, it was Will Chye leading the way with 12 points and nine rebounds. Jayden Perrone chipped in with eight points and four rebounds.

“It was a defensive battle highlighted by poor shooting,” Spartans head coach Tim Genson said.

Shelby improved its record to 6-3 overall and 5-2 in the conference with its second straight win. Next on the schedule for the Tigers is another conference contest at Hart on Thursday night.

Mason County Central fell to 3-7 overall and 0-6 in the league with its second loss in a row. The Spartans will be at home again Friday against Whitehall in another league contest.