Northwestern nets sweep in own prep hoops tourney Tuesday, Polo, Hardin-Central split

As reported to C-T

Several more C-T-area high school basketball teams began their 2020-21 seasons Tuesday.

In tournament play at Mendon, host Northwestern advanced both of its teams into the championship semifinals with strong finishes. In the Gallatin Invitational, Polo’s girls roiled Hardin-Central by 35 before HCHS’ Bulldogs took a 7-points win.

In non-tournament competition, Tina-Avalon dropped its season openers at Alma: Santa Fe, 56-35 in the girls' contest and 59-28 in the boys'.

Two games originally slated for Tuesday night – Breckenridge's girls and boys at Jamesport: Tri-County – have been postponed until Jan. 21, TCHS girls' coach Jeremy Slaughter reports.

NORTHWESTERN INVITATIONAL

MENDON — The Tuesday slate in the 65th-annual NHS tourney was cut in half late last week when Bucklin/Macon County R-4 had to back out. As a result, only the hosts and Higbee were in action.

With Higbee headed into the Carroll-Livingston Activity Association – joining Northwestern and 10 other schools – next year, the preview of future league action saw the host Eagles and Lady Eagles prevail in both the 51-50 girls’ thriller and boys’ 60-52 contest.

Northwestern’s girls found themselves behind 18-5 after one quarter, but patiently climbed back into contention. By halftime, they were within 28-21 and entered the final frame in a brand-new game, tied at 35.

Higbee’s Lady Tigers finally stabilized themselves and took the game right down to the wire, thanks to Macey Whisenand’s trey and 7-of-9 foul shooting. However, with better scoring balance, the Lady Eagles came out ahead when veteran Halie Smith scored the last six of her game-high 23 points and Alayna Adams and Alexa McCollum netted five apiece in the last eight minutes.

McCollum and Adams likewise each totaled 12 points as that trio accounted for all except four NHS markers.

Higbee was led by Alie Mitchell’s 16 points and Whisenand had 13. Interestingly, Lady Tiger Addie White drilled three first-quarter triples to account for half of her team’s strong start, but did not score again.

The boys’ contest was close through and, like the girls’ game before it, was all-square at 38-38 going to the last stanza.

There, the Eagles took flight on offense behind returning starters Hunter Stockwell and Clayton Gregory, out-scoring HHS 22-14.

Stockwell, who missed the last part of last season with an injury, netted the last eight of his game-high 20 points in the period and Gregory tacked on seven. For the game, Gregory had 15, ripping the cords three times outside the arc, and Isaac Zahner, another returnee, rang up 17 points.

Higbee also put three scorers in double digits. Jordan Fuemmeler had four treys and a team-high 17 points. Derek Rockett was right behind with 16, also including four 3s, and Keetum Redifer popped home 11 tallies.

Both Northwestern teams now will take on Meadville in championship semifinals Thursday at 7 (girls) and 8:15 p.m. (boys), respectively. Higbee’s girls will meet Hale/Bosworth in a consolation semifinal Wednesday at 7 p.m. to see who faces Brunswick in Friday’s consolation final. The Tigers will face Linn County in a 5:45 p.m. boys’ consolation semifinal Wednesday, again with the winner to meet Brunswick Friday at 7.

GALLATIN INVITATIONAL

POLO — With the tourney’s games dispersed to various participating teams’ home floors to avoid gathering mixed groups at a single site, Polo and Hardin-Central both saved some gas and travel time and each came away with a victory Tuesday.

Scoring at an average of over a basket a minute – including three 3-pointers, PHS’ Lady Panthers pounced early, establishing a 27-4 lead after one quarter and cruised on to the 64-29 romp.

Leading the well-balanced offensive parade for Polo in its season opener was reserve Hanna Vaught with 11 points. Haley Aubrey added 10 – eight in the first frame – and all 11 Lady Panthers who scored tallied at least three points.

Hardin-Central had seven points from Alexis Yockel.

In the boys’ contest, HCHS trailed 23-21 at intermission, but, paced by Mason McCaulley’s seven tallies, earned a 19-12 advantage in the decisive third period and ended up with the 54-47 verdict.

The triumphant Bulldogs had four scorers with nine to 12 points, led by Kobe Gibson’s and McCaulley’s 12 each. Mason Freece had 10 and Korey Pugh nine.

For Polo, Trent Raby rammed in a game-high 21 points, including three 3s, but no one else had more than seven.

Hardin-Central will play at Gallatin Thursday and Polo will go there Saturday for both girls’ and boys’ games in the tourney in which Braymer’s shutdown left seven schools participating.

In the other Tuesday games in the tourney, played at Trenton, Winston and THS split. The host Lady Bulldogs took their opener 34-27 and the Cardinals the boys’ contest in a 60-28 runaway.

(G) Alma: Santa Fe 56, Tina-Avalon 35; (B) Alma: Santa Fe 59, Tina-Avalon 28

ALMA — T-A's Lady Dragons led their game 13-12 after one quarter, but were blitzed 18-6 in the second and never regained their equilibrium.

Isabella Limback's 19 points led three SFHS double-digits scorers. Tina-Avalon was led by sophomore transfer (from Norborne) Regan Crowe's 12.

Santa Fe's Chiefs doubled the Dragons 14-7 in the opening period, then blew them out of the gym with a 24-4 second. After the lead grew to 53-16 after three, the entire final frame was played with the "running clock."

Santa Fe's Parker Tieman tossed in a game-best 18 points as the Chiefs also placed three scorers in twin figures. Tina-Avalon, with 40% of its starting lineup having finished playing football with state-champion Southwest Livingston last Saturday, was paced by Kylier Sturgeon's 10 tallies.