HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL JAN. 4-5 ROUNDUP: MHS boys improve to 11-1 on 2018-19 season with 49-42 win over Cairo. Tina-Avalon Lady Dragons stay undefeated in Carroll-Livingston Activity Association action with 1-point win at Hardin-Central

The Meadville High School basketball Eagles earned the championship plaque for the boys’ division of the inaugural Salisbury Invitational Tournament Saturday night (Jan. 5, 2019), defeating the Cairo Bearcats 49-42. The win left the top-seeded Eagles with an 11-1 season record. (C-T Photo / Paul Sturm)

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

SALISBURY, Mo. — After getting off to a wobbly start in the inaugural Salisbury Invitational Tournament last Wednesday, easing past the lowest seed by less than 10 points, the Meadville Mo.) HS basketball Eagles got better as the week went along, eventually showing they warranted the top seeding.

Saturday night, the Eagles began to create some daylight between them and the Cairo Bearcats in the late going of the first half and eventually led by as many as 15 points late in the third period before holding off a comeback bid and registering a 49-42 title-game triumph.

Their momentum boosted by Dominik Gannan’s 22-feet trey a second before the halftime horn that sent them to the locker room up 24-18, Meadville’s boys (11-1) led 37-22 with a minute to go in the third stanza when Conner Fletcher connected twice on free throws.

Having largely tried – without much success – to generate points on inside shots off drives or by feeding the ball to its pair of 6’5” players in the low post, Cairo had to switch tactics with that deficit staring it in the face with just over a quarter to play and made things interesting in the last minute.

Beginning an Alex Zike 3-pointer that capped the third quarter and left MHS with a 37-25 advantage with eight minutes to go, Cairo rode three more treys by that senior, as well as a half-dozen free throws, to whittle the Eagles’ lead down to five with under a half-minute to go. However, after Meadville had missed five earlier foul shots in the frame, Gannan completed a 16-points night by hitting a pair that iced the win.

Continuing a tourney-long trend, the Eagles had difficulty finding the range at the charity stripe, hitting only 12 of 21 against Cairo.

Fletcher joined Gannan in twin-digits scoring with 10 points. After the Eagles had struggled with their long-distance shooting earlier in the tourney, they hit five in the final – three by Gannan and two by Fletcher.

Fike’s 20 points led all scorers with Colby Hale chipping in 12.

While the MHS boys were grabbing the tourney crown, the Lady Eagles (5-7) came away empty-handed in three outings, following a first-round loss last Wednesday with a 54-51 setback against Center: Mark Twain Friday and a 61-41 defeat by Glasgow in Saturday’s fifth-place game.

No specifics on the Meadville girls’ Friday and Saturday games were received before press deadline.

Meadville returns to Tri-County Conference action Tuesday, hosting Bevier.

Tina-Avalon vs. Hardin-Central

HARDIN — The Tina-Avalon girls came away with a hard-fought 28-26 CLAA road win over Hardin-Central Friday in a meeting of two of the league’s three teams still undefeated in conference play. The win also was the 300th girls’ win in the coaching career of Dana Hansen, who is in his third season of leading T-A’s Lady Dragons after an 11-years stretch at Harrisburg and a year at Columbia: Rock Bridge.

As the score indicates, “Both teams’ defenses were in gear,” Hansen shared.

The Lady Dragons held HCHS to a single basket in the first quarter while gaining a 7-2 lead, then held a 10-7 halftime lead with the help of two Khloey Forst 3-pointers.

The game remained close throughout the second half. T-A led 19-14 going into the fourth quarter, but the Lady Bulldogs made an 8-2 run behind Carly Thacker and took a momentary lead of 22-21, the Tina-Avalon coach recounted.

After a timeout when they lost the lead, the Lady Dragons (7-2, 4-0 conf.) went on a run of their own to reclaim the lead and, eventually, the 2-points victory.

Haley Rucker and Hannah Colliver produced eight points each and Samantha Rounkles and Forst six apiece to account for all of TAHS’ well-balanced scoring. Hardin-Central (9-3, 4-1 conf.) was led by Thacker’s 14.

In a statistical oddity, the teams combined to miss all nine free throws attempted in the game.

Taking note of his career milestone, Hansen stated, “Thanks to all the players, parents, school administrators who I have worked with over the years.”

Tina-Avalon next plays at home against league foe Breckinridge tonight. Hardin-Central goes to Norborne, whose girls are the other team without a CLAA setback, for conference play Tuesday.

Southwest Livingston vs. Norborne

NORBORNE — Scoring at least 21 points in each of the first three periods Friday, Southwest Livingston’s Wildcats did what they could to keep a bit of heat on CLAA leader Mendon: Northwestern, crushing Norborne 80-33.

Norborne’s girls maintained their perfect share of the CLAA regular-season lead with a 54-16 triumph over Southwest Livingston.

Southwest’s boys had the typical scoring-rebounding double-double from junior star Mack Anderson and three dual-digits scorers.

The 6’5” Anderson hit nine of his 11 attempted 2-points shots, all three treys he tried, and the only free throw he got as he posted 28 points. He snagged seven offensive caroms among his 10 rebounds, earned four assists, made four steals, and blocked three shots.

Wyatt Maddux of the Wildcats (8-2, 3-1 conf.) added 19 points, six rebounds, and a team-high five assists and Nate Reith 11 points, five assists also, and three swipes. Patrick Warren chipped in eight points, six boards, and three thefts.

Norborne’s boys (2-8, 1-3 conf.) received 13 points from Levi Cheney.

NHS’ Lady Pirates (9-1, 4-0 conf.) were led by Olivia Dooley’s 17 points and Kennadie Crowe’s 14.

Southwest Livingston (1-9, 1-3 conf.) had five points from Makenna Campbell and four rebounds by Matney Waters.

Southwest Livingston goes to Brunswick for CLAA play tonight. Norborne hosts Hardin-Central Tuesday in conference action.

Hamilton: Penney vs. Plattsburg

HAMILTON — Behind junior guard Nora Ford’s big scoring night,the host Lady Hornets (8-2, 1-1 conf.) fended off Plattsburg 54-47 to square their KCI Conference ledger.

Forcing Plattsburg into multiple fouls with her ability to handle the ball, drive, or shoot from deep, Ford sank 11 of 12 free throws, nailed a couple of first-quarter triples, and added eight deuces – two of which became three-points plays – to ring up 33 points.

The Lady Hornets used an 18-9 second stanza to gain a 34-21 lead, but saw that gap cut more than in half in the third quarter as Plattsburg pulled within 45-39.

Jessica Richman added eight important points for the home team.

Plattsburg had 17 points from Sydney Stephens and 12 by Savannah Bingham off the bench.

Plattsburg blazed to a 21-6 lead after one period of the boys’ game and had things in hand the rest of the way behind Garrett Stephens’ 21 points and Austin Stevens’ 20.

Hamilton’s Hornets (3-6, 0-2 conf.) were led by Cale Whitt’s 15.

Hamilton will be in the Lawson Invitational Tournament this coming week.

Braymer vs. Worth County

GRANT CITY — Braymer’s Bobcats (4-8, 0-4 conf.) made a solid bid for their initial Grand River Conference-West victory of the season, but fell short, 44-38. No specifics on the game were reported before press time.

Four double-digits scorers let Worth County crush the visiting Lady ’Cats 77-42 Friday.

Anna Gladstone led WCHS with 22 points. Braymer’s girls (4-8, 2-2 conf.) had three scorers in twin digits themselves. Jasmine Taylor rang up 16 points, Hallie Russell hit three treys on her way to 13 tallies and Kennedy Stone provided 10.

Braymer plays this coming week in the Bill Burns Classic tournament at Lathrop.

Polo vs. Gallatin

POLO — The visiting GHS Lady Bulldogs established the upper hand early, easily withstanding a strong Polo finish to win 57-46.

After scoring only 24 points in the first three quarters, the Lady Panthers (3-9, 0-4 conf.) netted 22 in the last stanza, including three treys by reserve Emma Howard and seven Haley Aubrey markers.

Taylor Wagner’s 13 points and Aubrey’s 12 paced PHS. Gallatin standout Karley Salmon fired in a half-dozen 3-pointers and 26 total points. Caragan Baker tacked on 12.

Gallatin’s boys won 43-26. No details were reported or available. The Polo boys dipped to 4-7 overall, 1-3 in the GRC-East.

Polo is in the Osborn Invitational Tournament this coming week.

Keytesville vs. Higbee

KEYTESVILLE — The hosts (9-5) claimed a tight, non-conference battle between Tigers, 60-57.

Keytesville’s girls (2-10) were virtually doubled up, 55-28.

No details were reported on either game.

Keytesville will visit Southwest Livingston in CLAA play Tuesday.