Northwestern's fast start, veteran junior guards key 67-64 upset of No. 1 seed Southwest Livingston in Carroll-Livingston Activity Association basketball tournament semifinal Friday, Feb. 9, 2018
TINA, Mo. — A bit surprisingly, there never has been a season of Carroll-Livingston Activity Association (CLAA) in its 60-plus years of existence in which a member school’s girls’ and boys’ basketball teams won all of their regular-season conference games and then won the conference tourney titlee, to boot.
Although a strong bid was made, it won’t happen this season either.
After Southwest Livingston’s Wildcats and Lady Wildcats marched through regular-season league play a perfect 8-0 each, they began this week’s CLAA Tourney at Tina-Avalon School with runaway victories Wednesday.
However, Friday night, after the Lady Wildcats moved the quest one step closer to completion with a 51-19 cakewalk over Tina-Avalon in the championship semifinals, SLHS’ boys plummeted into a 25-10 chasm after one quarter of their subsequent semifinal and, despite a strong comeback over the next two periods to narrow their deficit to four points, fell to the tourney’s defending champs, Mendon’s Northwestern Eagles, 67-64.
Those outcomes, along with Norborne’s nervous 46-42 triumph over Hardin-Central’s girls and Brunswick’s 52-45 decision over Keytesville, set the pairings for Saturday night’s title games in the 65th-annual CLAA Tournament.
At about 6:30 p.m., No. 1 seed Southwest Livingston’s girls (17-2) and No. 2 Norborne (17-3) will tangle for a third time this season, each having won once previously. Then, following that, second seed Brunswick (17-6) – only in the loop a few years – will seek its first-ever tourney crown in the conference by squaring off with No. 4 seed Northwestern (14-8).
At the time of this posting (late Friday night), the weather forecast continues to improve, as far as the once-delayed tourney concluding without further interference. The arrival of some snow showers currently is projected for somewhere between 8-10 p.m. Saturday, during the boys’ title game, likely giving attendees reasonably good travel conditions for the trip home.
Saturday’s amended 6-games slate will tip off at 12:30 p.m. at the school 15 miles south of Chillicothe on U.S. Highway 65. The boys’ consolation final (Hale-Bosworth vs. Hardin-Central) will start at that hour, followed by the girls’ consolation game (Northwestern vs. Keytesville), girls’ third-place contest (Hardin-Central vs. Tina-Avalon), and boys’ third-place clash (Southwest Livingston vs. Keytesville).
In Friday’s championship semifinals, Northwestern’s Eagles strong suit – its young-veteran guard combination of Wade Adams and Jaden Humphrey – proved to be the difference-making thorn in Southwest Livingston’s side pre-game analysis projected it might.
The junior duo combined for three treys and 17 points in the Eagles’ blazing start which put the favorites behind the 8-ball.
Eventually, the two Northwestern standouts – both in their third year of starting or extensive use – would team up for 46 points overall, 24 by Adams, and five teammates would generate an additional 21 between them to send coach Mike Kahn’s team into the tourney finale.
To their credit, SLHS’ Wildcats (16-3) collected themselves after the rough start and, led by their big gun – sophomore forward Mack Anderson, drew well within striking range at 50-46 heading into the last period. However, with Adams knocking down his four triple of the night early in the fourth stanza, Ryan Fisher later adding one of his own, and – handling the ball almost exclusively for their club in the late going – the Humphrey-Adams tandem sank nine of 10 final-frame foul shots, six without a miss by Humphrey.
Anderson rang up at least six markers every quarter and finished with a game-high 37 points, but Northwestern largely quieted or controlled the other six Wildcats. Wyatt Maddux was limited to 11 points, part of a double-double that included 12 rebounds, and Nate Reith provided nine. Anderson also double-doubled, grabbing 16 rebounds and also blocking seven shots and earning a team-high four assists.
Friday’s other tight tilt saw Norborne’s Lady Pirates respond to a 20-16 halftime deficit with a game-turning 21-8 third stanza which gave them enough cushion to fend off the tall, young Lady Bulldogs (14-8).
NHS senior guard Madison Brown, last year’s conference season and tourney MVP who has generally laid low in the weeds this season, stepped up in the big game, popping in a game-high 19 points. Sophomore forward Kennadie Crowe was close behind with 16. Hardin-Central was topped by Julia Finley’s 18 points with Izabella Anderson, back from missing her team’s first-round game with illness, getting 10.
Southwest Livingston’s Lady Wildcats, who were without now-returned All-State forward Kaylie Campbell (ill) when they fell to Norborne in the recent Keytesville Tournament title game, easily punched their ticket to the title round Friday.
Senior guard Kortlyn Rounkles scored around her excellent average, shredding T-A for 30 points. Campbell, averaging a double-double for the season in scoring and rebounding, went for 17 points, giving that senior duo all except four of the SLHS tallies.
Haley Rucker of the host Lady Dragons (11-10) had 12 of her side’s 19 points.
Friday’s nightcap pitted long-time pitched Chariton County rivals Brunswick and Keytesville, who shifted from their long-time league home – the Central Activities Conference – to the CLAA within a year of each other a few years back.
Just as during the regular season, BHS came away with the win, seizing a strong upper hand of 31-18 at halftime and keeping the Tigers (14-8) at bay over the last 16 minutes.
Both teams had two big scorers, but Brunswick had others help out, making the difference. Tall BHS center Reece Winn netted a team-high 20 points and A.J. Worley went for 18, but it was Amari Glasgow’s nine points and Garland Theus’ five which ultimately tipped the scales their team’s way.
Keytesville had a game-best 23 tallies by sophomore forward Evan Craig – all but three of them after intermission – and 20 by senior Tyler McKinstry. The rest of its roster could provide only two more points, however.