(Updated 2/17 12 a.m.) Wildcats lead virtually start to finish Saturday (Feb. 15, 2020) in 65-46 championship-game triumph over Mendon: Northwestern. With big second half, Norborne handily takes girls' title, 58-32 over Hardin-Central

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
TINA, Mo. — There was a total lack of drama to the latter stages of either of Saturday night’s (Feb. 15) championship games of the 2020 Carroll-Livingston Activity Association basketball tournament.
Southwest Livingston’s Wildcats ended a 33-years lapse between CLAA tourney crowns, dispatching 2-times defending champion Mendon: Northwestern 65-46 in the last game of the tournament. That followed a tough-for-a-while 58-32 crunching of Hardin-Central by girls’ top seed Norborne.
The combined 45-points winning margins are the largest since the 1995 tourney’s 46 points. Of course, most of those 46 were provided by the eventual Class 1 state champion Meadville Lady Eagles, who prevailed by 43 that night.
Third-seeded Southwest Livingston’s triumph over fifth seed Northwestern kept intact a now-9-years streak for CLAA tourney boys’ championship clashes. Every year since 2012, the title game of the boys’ division has concluded with a double-digits spread.
Capturing Saturday’s other expanded-schedule finals, the Hale/Bosworth boys topped Keytesville 67-63 and host Tina-Avalon’s Lady Dragons easily bested Brunswick 54-37 in the third-place games after Northwestern’s girls topped Southwest’s 44-38 and Brunswick’s boys doubled T-A 68-34 for consolation.
The respective genders’ Bob Carter Memorial All-Tournament Teams predictably were led – as most valuable player honorees – by the respective champions’ senior All-State stars – Mack Anderson of SLHS and Kennadie Crowe of NHS.
The boys’ elite group also included Southwest junior guard Chase Neptune, Northwestern’s Clayton Gregory, Hale/Bosworth’s Colton Harris, and Austin McKinstry of Keytesville. The girls’ all-tourney choices, in addition to K. Crowe, were T-A’s Samantha Rounkles, Carly Thacker of Hardin-Central, and Norborne’s Olivia Dooley and Regan Crowe.
The CLAA Tournament’s annual Gail O’Neal Memorial Sportsmanship Award went to Norborne by vote of tournament game officials.
(B) Southwest Livingston 65, Mendon: Northwestern 46
In a boys’ championship contest devoid of either of the top two seeds, Southwest Livingston’s Wildcats riddled Northwestern’s Eagles (11-10) with transition layups – and four Ma. Anderson fast-break dunks.
The Southwest boys (15-5) used a press and quick transition from offense to defense to race to an 18-2 lead in the first 5:20.
While Northwestern earned credit for steadying and keeping the gap in the neighborhood of 15 points – and a few less than that for a brief time in the second period – into the second half, when the Wildcats re-applied full heat in the third period, the gap essentially doubled with the Ludlow-based team momentarily owning a 29-points lead before head coach Dana Hansen again hit the “relax” button.
Doing all of his scoring from the field and the vast majority of it on fast-break layups from the left side, southpaw Neptune netted a game-high 27 points in the title-game triumph. Ma. Anderson tallied 18, almost half on throwdowns in his memorable CLAA Tourney farewell.
(G) Norborne 58, Hardin-Central 32
Norborne’s Lady Pirates (22-1) could be excused for a bit of lack of focus and intensity in the first half of their championship clash with neighbor Hardin-Central.
Meeting a team which, despite staying within 11 of then-undefeated NHS in mid-January, owns nearly 10 less victories this season, the Lady Pirates found themselves up by only a pair after one quarter and, even with a little burst late in the second, in front only 21-14 at halftime.
Once the second half commenced, however, it was “Katie, bar the door,” as Norborne rang up a dozen or more unanswered markers before the Lady Bulldogs (12-8) got back on the scoreboard.
Hardin-Central regained its stride a bit late in the third stanza and early in the fourth to stay within shouting distance, but an Olivia Dooley-led push in the middle of the fourth spiked the NHS lead into the 20s, where it remained.
K. Crowe finished with a game-high 20 points, supported by 13 each from the Dooley twins Kayla and Olivia. Each of them drilled three treys in the game.
HCHS received 16 points from junior forward Carly Thacker, but no other Lady Bulldog topped six.
(Additional photos from Saturday’s championship games will be added to this story Monday).
(B 3rd) Hale/Bosworth 67, Keytesville 63
with Keytesville again minus one of its top players, the teams exchanged dominating periods in the first half before settling into a close, back-and-forth battle through the final half.
KHS’ Tigers (17–5), regular-season CLAA co-champs with either Hale/Bosworth or Southwest Livingston, led by 10, 19-9, going to the second stanza, but the Cardinals (16-6) negated their slow start with a 22-10 second-quarter surge that gave them a 31-29 lead at the mid-game break.
The tourney’s No. 2 seed then expanded that to a 5-points spread after three periods before having a 4-points cushion over the No. 1 seed at the final horn.
Hale/Bosworth’s attack was led by 20 points from eventual all-tourney pick Harris, who knocked down seven of eight free throws in the game. Jaeden Sears tacked on 16, hitting four of five charity tosses himself, and Ethan Hoett nailed four trifectas and a pair of foul shots for 16. As a team, the Cardinals sizzled at the stripe, converting 23 of 28.
Keytesville, with senior 4-years starter Evan Craig not in uniform for a second night in a row, had 31 from its all-tourney rep Au. McKinstry, 15 by Allen McKinstry, and 11 from Christian Brockman.
(G 3rd) Tina-Avalon 54, Brusnwick 37
With junior S. Rounkles solidifying her profile as an all-tourney team candidate with 29 points, the ever-improving Lady Dragons (9-11) overcame a slow start to win going away.
T-A was nearly doubled in the first eight minutes as a pair of treys and eight points by BHS’ Addi Riley led the Lady Wildcats (13-10) to a 15-8 lead. Then S. Rounkles and the hosts took over.
S. Rounkles hit a handful of deuces and two free attempts in the second quarter as Tina-Avalon not only cut into the Brunswick lead, but replaced it with a 25-22 TAHS advantage at intermission.
The T-A girls then pulled away with an 11-2 margin in the third quarter before closing the game with an 18-13 edge in the final eight minutes.
In addition to S. Rounkles’ 29 tallies, Kadie Rounkles popped in 14 and Haley Rucker nine in the win. Riley’s 14 and Abby Dobbins’ 10 led Brunswick.
(G cons.) Mendon: Northwestern 44, Southwest Livingston 38
After Southwest Livingston’s Lady Wildcats (8-12) led by two points after each of the first two quarters, Northwestern’s Lady Eagles (13-8) exploded for 16 points in the third – equaling their pre-halftime total – to move in front 32-27 and held fast from there.
Georgeanne Zahner’s 22 points led NHS’ scoring. Southwest Livingston got 17 from Lily Webb and 12 by Matney Waters.
(B cons.) Brunswick 68, Tina-Avalon 34
Amari Glasgow of BHS’ Wildcats (14-8) emerged from recent hibernation to hit for 11 first-period points and 17 ahead of halftime as Brunswick cruised to its trophy-game win.
Glasgow finished with a game-best 21 tallies, supported by 15 from Kobe Tatum and 14 from J.T. Collier. Tina-Avalon’s Dragons (6-13) had 12 by Connor Jenkins, all on 3-pointers.