Hale/Bosworth, Host Spring Boys’ Semifinal Surprises in Northwestern Hoops Tourney Thursday

While top two girls’ seeds move on to title game, boys’ championship game Saturday will pit Nos. 3, 4 seeds

As reported to C-T
  • Both boys' championship semifinals winners trailed at halftime Thursday
  • Meadville, Green City girls to stage 1 vs. 2 championship battle Saturday at 6 p.m.

MENDON, Mo. — Normally, a both-genders high school basketball tournament’s host school licks its financial chops at having four different schools involved in its single-night championship games, drawing fans from four separate sources.

In this year of COVID-19-curtailed attendance, however, packing the gym with fans isn’t desirable, so, for Northwestern High School, having its fourth-seeded Eagles playing for the crown is a welcome consolation prize.

Although early-season tournaments often are notorious for underestimating some squads and overvaluing others in the seeding process, having both the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the same gender division knocked off in the championship semifinals isn’t a particularly common occurrence, but that’s what happened in the 65th-annual Northwestern Invitational Thursday (Dec. 3).

First, fourth-seeded Hale/Bosworth’s Cardinals played from behind top seed Green City for most of three periods before outscoring the Gophers 19-10 in the fourth to march into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. title game via a 62-55 triumph.

Then, in the last semifinal contest, the third-seeded host Eagles out-dueled Meadville’s second-seeded, but shorthanded boys in a tight second half to punch their own ticket to the championship contest by a 46-43 margin.

The tournament’s girls’ championship semifinals Thursday went according to Hoyle with favorite Meadville shellacking Northwestern 62-20 after second seed Green City clipped Linn County 42-33 with a solid second half.

The Meadville and Green City girls will tangle for distaff laurels at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Thursday’s most-intriguing contest was the Hale/Bosworth upset of the top boys’ seed.

Through three periods, the underdog Cardinals had stayed close, but virtually always behind, despite a game-best 23 points from senior forward Jaeden Sears. Green City possessed leads of 15-11, 30-24, and 45-43 after the first three quarters, respectively.

Finally, in the fourth, the Gophers found a way to totally silence Sears, only to be stunned by five other Cardinals combining for 19 points that produced the 7-points triumph. Senior guard Ethan Hoerr had a trey, a deuce, and two free throws, Drake Heussner a triple and two foul shots, and reserve Kolby Singers a deuce and two charity tosses to power the winning push.

In addition to Sears’ 23 tallies, Hoerr provided 13, Heussner 10, and backup Corliss Depee eight. Green City’s Laydon Fields had a team-best 20.

With Meadville (2-1) again without three players, including would-be returning starter Trey Gannan, Northwestern’s boys (3-0) “won” the second half by five points after being down only 23-21 at intermission.

NHS edged in front 36-34 entering the fourth period as Hunter Stockwell put up seven points and Isaac Zahner six on two trifectas in the third segment. Senior forward H. Stockwell then provided six of his team’s 10 points in the low-scoring closing quarter, which saw Conner Fletcher provide all eight MHS markers.

For the game, Fletcher led all scorers with 22 points, but that was trumped by the combination of H. Stockwell’s 17 and Zahner’s 13 for the hosts.

The first girls’ semifinal saw Linn County’s Lady Mustangs give GCHS’ Lady Gophers an argument for a half before fading. Green City had a 24-14 post-intermission advantage on the scoreboard.

Celeste Athon of Green City led all scorers with 17 points, supported by 11 from Maddie Lumsford. LCHS’ Lady Mustangs also got 28 combined from their top pair of scorers; Jenna Hoerrmann tallied 16 and Madison Livingston 12.

Meadville senior All-State guard Kiera Holcer riddled Northwestern for 19 of her team’s 24 first-quarter points, then settled for a game-most 23. Tacking on 12 in support was Krysta Meyers. The NHS girls had seven apiece from Halie Smith and Alexa McCollum.