Fifth-seeded Mendon: Northwestern, the 2-times defending champion, KOs top seed Keytesville 66-63 and third seed Southwest Livingston chases down Hale/Bosworth 44-41 Feb. 14, 2020. Girls' top seeds to Saturday's title game

TINA, Mo. — Despite entering this week’s Carroll-Livingston Activity Association Tournament as the No. 5 seed, a .500 record for the season, and losses in six of their prior nine games, as well as missing their best and most-experienced player for the rest of the season, Mendon’s Northwestern Eagles – champions of the two most-recent CLAA tourneys – declared again on Friday night that they won’t abdicate that throne willingly.
Finding the talent availability scales balanced when senior standout forward Evan Craig of top-seeded Keytesville could not answer the bell for their championship semifinal, Northwestern’s Eagles – having lost 6’4” junior Hunter Stockwell, their top scorer and rebounder and interior defender, to a shoulder injury a short time back – outscored KHS’ Tigers 20-17 in the fourth period to capture a 66-63 verdict.
That returns veteran coach Michael Kahn’s squad to Saturday’s 8 p.m. title game for a third-straight time and fourth time in the last five league events. The Eagles (11-9) will be opposed by third seed Southwest Livingston (14-5), which posted its own 3-points victory Friday, coming back from a 37-33 deficit after three periods to shade second seed Hale/Bosworth 44-41.
While the boys’ division’s top two seeds were falling by the wayside short of the championship game, the girls’ division was “chalk,” with top-heavy tourney favorite Norborne (21-1) crushing Brunswick 70-18 in Friday’s opener and second seed Hardin-Central (11-7) finally creating some daylight in the fourth quarter as it fended off upset-minded Tina-Avalon 45-31.
Due to Wednesday’s snow-prompted postponement, the tournament will have all six final-round games Saturday (Feb. 15) at Tina-Avalon School, beginning at 12:30 p.m. with the girls’ consolation contest between Southwest Livingston and Mendon: Northwestern. After the Brunswick and Tina-Avalon boys tangle for consolation and the third-place games between the T-A and Brunswick girls and Hale/Bosworth and Keytesville boys, the girls’ title tilt is tentatively ticketed for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff. The final contest – the Southwest Livingston-Northwestern boys’ championship clash – should start in the vicinity of 8 p.m. Saturday.
Following the boys’ title game, the Bob Carter Memorial All-Tournament Teams and tourney most valuable player for each gender will be announced, along with the Gail O’Neal Memorial Sportsmanship Award recipient school.
(B) Southwest Livingston 44, Hale/Bosworth 41
Yet to play their regular-season conference game – they’ll meet again Feb. 19 on Southwest’s court at Ludlow to determine who’ll be regular-season co-champion with Keytesville, SLHS’ Wildcats and Hale/Bosworth’s Cardinals staged a crackerjack preview in sorting out which also would get a crack at the tourney’s top prize.
Spreading the scoring wealth around with four players tallying at least four points, the Wildcats pounced early and led 18-11 after one period. However, the Cardinals (15-6) kept their poise and sharpened their defense to be within 26-22 at halftime.
Hale/Bosworth, seeded higher than Southwest by virtue of a seeding-meeting coin flip, came out of the locker room for the second half strong and, behind eight Colten Harris points, surged ahead 37-33 with a period to play.
With the chips down, the Wildcats played their ace in the hole – 6’6” senior center Mack Anderson – over and over again at both ends of the court.
With the All-Stater serving as both a deterrent inside on defense and repeatedly getting the ball in a position to score on the offensive end, Southwest Livingston limited the Cardinals to only two field goals and four points in the last segment, while Ma. Anderson netted three deuces and three of four free throws to lead his side to a comeback victory.
Ma. Anderson finished with a game-high 22 points, complemented by 14 from junior point guard Chase Neptune.
Hale/Bosworth received 15 from Harris, all of those coming in the middle two stanzas. Jaeden Sears and Ty Berger each netted nine.
(B) Mendon: Northwestern 66, Keytesville 63
Southwest’s championship-game opponent also had to be at its best down the stretch.
Northwestern saw a 36-30 halftime lead built largely on Clayton Gregory’s 17 points disappear during the third quarter as the top-seeded Tigers tightened their defense and drew even at 46-all after 24 minutes.
While KHS’ Austin McKinstry continued to produce prolifically with the last 12 of his game-high 30 points, his teammates could supplement that with only one deuce and five points, allowing Northwestern’s diverse attack to carry the day. Five Eagles had baskets and little-heralded J.R. Bushery netted a team-most six points in the final period as Northwestern netted 20 markers in the last eight minutes to take the upset triumph.
Gregory’s 21 points paced the Mendon-based squad, but Isaac Zahner chipped in 15 and Silas Brown 12, in addition to Bushery’s eight.
Beyond Au. McKinstry’s huge total, Devon Neidholdt knocked down a handful of treys and had 16 points.
(G) Hardin-Central  45, Tina-Avalon 31
Tina-Avalon’s improvement over the past month has increased its confidence level, allowing the Lady Dragons to shrug off their 19-points loss to Hardin-Central on the same floor only a week earlier and be in the thick of this rematch doing to the fourth quarter.
Hardin-Central led only 29-27 with 1:45 left in the third quarter before getting the final four points of that stanza to create some separation. Ken Layman’s Lady Bulldogs used that late spurt as propulsion to a strong finish, outscoring the Lady Dragons (8-11) in the fourth frame to win going away.
Limited to only seven points in the first three quarters – she picked up three first-half fouls, HCHS standout Carly Thacker hit three buckets to power the last-stanza push, finishing with a team-high 13 points.
Until Thacker got untracked, guards Isabella Anderson and Daylea Shander shouldered the scoring chores. Anderson, who riddled for T-A for 24 points and 13 rebounds in the Feb. 7 meeting, was limited to 11 points this time, but Shaner stepped up to score 10 – all in the first three frames.
The game’s top scorer was 6’1” T-A junior Samantha Rounkles. She had 19 points, but no other Lady Dragon surpassed seven. S. Rounkles had all but three of Tina-Avalon’s second-half points.
(G) Norborne 70, Brunswick 18
Friday’s first game was quickly out of hand, to no one’s particular surprise. NHS staked out a 21-5 advantage after one quarter, then mushroomed it to 49-7 by halftime.
Kennadie Crowe, who attended and starred for Tina-Avalon as a freshman, netted 15 of her game-high 19 points during the opening-half onslaught. Little sister Regan chipped in 14 and Melanie Cheney tacked on 11.
Brunswick (13-9) had five points apiece from Harleigh Lewis and Addi Riley.
      NON-TOURNAMENT
(G) Hamilton: Penney 55, Mid-Buchanan 39
(B) Mid-Buchanan 70, Hamilton: Penney 50
HAMILTON, Mo. — Hamilton’s Lady Hornets (16-4, 4-1 conf.) bounced back from their loss to East Buchanan the night before with a comfortable conquest of the Lady Dragons.
Nora Ford’s 19 points led the winners’ nicely-distributed attack which saw five scorers, including two reserves, have at least six points. Graycen Prothero joined Ford in dual digits with 11.
The boys’ contest was a twin-figures affair most of the last three periods after “Mid-Buck” stuck the Hornets 20-11 in the first frame. However, the Penney High boys played the Dragons to a near-standoff during th next two quarters before fading late.
Ryan Cook’s 24 points led the Hornets (3-16, 1-4 conf.). Tucker Ross tossed in an additional 11. Stetson Leiffring paced Mid-Buchanan’s attack with 15 points.
Hamilton’s next action will be at home Tuesday against West Platte.