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Southwest Boys, Norborne Girls on Inside Tracks for CLAA Roundball Repeats

Weekend wins over pursuers open clear path to repeat crowns

As reported to C-T
  • Southwest Livingston boys withstand 30-points night by football teammate Sears Friday
  • Norborne Lady Pirates reflect big-game experience in stretch of win over Tina-Avalon
  • Late-starting Braymer Bobcats post first victory of season at Mercer behind defense
  • Polo Lady Panthers inflate record to area-best 16-1, beating Princeton

The 2020-21 Carroll-Livingston Activity Association regular-season basketball championship chases came into much-crisper focus last weekend.

Although neither league title is carved in granite yet, the Southwest Livingston High School Wildcats and Norborne Lady Pirates established clear paths to repeat titles with victories over teams which were among their chief rivals.

On Friday, SLHS’ Wildcats – co-champions with Keytesville last year – turned aside determined Hale/Bosworth 66-62 on the Cardinals’ court to improve to 6-0 in league play and 7-3 overall officially. Effectively, however, that’s a 7-0 CLAA mark since a forfeit from Keytesville technically awaits.

The Southwest Livingston boys still have to play currently 3-10 Norborne and winless Braymer in rescheduled games in mid-February. In the meantime, Friday’s win locked up the No. 1 seeding for the approaching conference tournament.

Norborne’s girls hosted Tina-Avalon in a duel of previously-perfect-in-league squads Saturday after catching a break from the weather the week before.

The originally-scheduled Jan. 14 date for their meeting would have found the 6-players NHS squad with Kate Brown in COVID-19 quarantine and senior star Olivia Dooley injured and possibly unable to participate. To have avoided a forfeit in that circumstance, the Lady Pirates might have been required to have O. Dooley stand on the court at game’s start to have the required full 5-players starting lineup and, depending on her health situation, either have her retire to the bench at the first stoppage of play or stand at one end of the floor or the other, so as to avoid contact which might worsen her injury.

Instead, bad weather moved in that Thursday evening, prompting a postponement of nine days. By that time, Brown and O. Dooley both were available again and more than made their presence known in a 58-46 Norborne triumph.

The two combined for 13 first-quarter points as the Lady Pirates (11-2, 6-0 conf.) staked out a 20-13 advantage. Then, after T-A climbed to within 26-23 at halftime and pulled even at 38 apiece through three quarters, O. Dooley’s six points and 10 by Melanie Cheney and tough NHS defense that held the Lady Dragons to two baskets and eight points in the last stanza allowed the defending conference champions to win going away.

Norborne’s girls still have postponements against Southwest Livingston (Feb. 18) and Braymer (Feb. 5) yet to make up, as well as the originally-scheduled Feb. 2 contest at Mendon: Northwestern to play. The Braymer game might prove troublesome, but will be at Norborne.

Given that the bracket will be set before that Braymer contest occurs, the Lady Pirates are assured of being the league tourney’s No. 1 seed again.

Elsewhere around the C-T coverage area Friday and Saturday, Tina-Avalon’s boys were Saturday winners, while Friday saw Southwest Livingston sweep at Hale, T-A’s girls top Orrick, Polo’s girls get their area-best 16th win over Princeton, the host boys and Brunswick girls win at Mendon: Northwestern, and Norborne sweep at Kingsville.

SATURDAY

 (G) Norborne 58, Tina-Avalon 46

(B) Tina-Avalon 47, Norborne 42

NORBORNE — As previously noted, T-A overcame a slow start on defense to be all square going to the last frame, but Norborne’s girls – far more seasoned in pressure situations – showed that with its final-frame execution.

It found Cheney time and time again for inside buckets – five altogether, while O. Dooley had a trey, a deuce, and a foul shot to complete a game-best 18-points performance in her second game back from her injury sustained at Hale the week prior.

Cheney finished with 16, Kayla Dooley nine, and Brown eight.

The Lady Dragons (9-2, 4-1 conf.), who had not lost since their season opener, had 15 points from Kadie Rounkles and 10 by Samantha Rounkles, but ex-Lady Pirate Regan Crowe made only one basket and had six points against her former teammates.

The boys’ game was close most of the last 20 minutes after Tina-Avalon recovered from a 14-8 deficit after one period.

Kylier Sturgeon’s career-high 24 points paced the win for the Dragons (4-8, 4-2 conf.). Johnny Miller had 13, Kobe Gibson 11, and Cash Leabo 10 for the Pirates (3-10, 2-4 conf.).

(G) Mercer 60, Braymer 28; (B) Braymer 51, Mercer 48

MERCER — Filling a vacancy in Mercer’s schedule when Linn County could not play, due to COVID-19 quarantine, Braymer’s boys managed to get in the wins column for the first time after a shockingly-big loss at Polo two nights before.

The boys’ game effectively turned on Braymer’s defensive performance and/or Mercer’s inability to put the ball through the ring from the field.

While they made 20 of 29 free throws, the Cardinals finished with an overall shooting percentage from the floor of 23% (27% from 2-points distance and 18% from 3).

The Bobcats (1-3) led 29-28 going to the fourth quarter when the squads combined for 42 of the game’s 99 points. Because BHS had a 22-20 advantage, it held on to win by three.

Carson Brame’s 21 points, including making four of 10 tries outside the arc, led the winners with Vincent Youtsey providing 14 as the Bobcats got in the “wins” column

The Lady ’Cats (2-2), like Mercer’s boys subsequently, had difficulty finding the basket, sinking only 33% of their field-goal attempts and 31% of their free throws. Combine those two numbers with 31 turnovers, according to BHS statisticians, and the unexpected “running clock” final margin is not surprising.

Mercer gladly converted the many BHS giveaways and the Lady Cardinals’ own 13 steals into many layups and other short-range scoring opportunities on fast breaks.

According to BHS-kept stats, Mercer’s girls scored 37 in transition. Its 38 points in the paint underscore that, allowing it to shoot nearly 66% on 2-points attempts and 56.5% overall.

Scoring-wise, tall Tori Meinecke marauded Braymer for 35 points, making 15 of 20 2-points shots. BHS was led by Dallas Hall’s nine markers.

(G) Higbee 47, Hardin-Central (2-9) 36

(B) Higbee 70, Hardin-Central (3-8) 39

HIGBEE — Visiting future CLAA member Higbee, Hardin-Central took it on the chin twice Saturday.

The Bulldogs went to 3-8 in the face of three double-figures scorers for the Tigers, topped by Jordan Fuemmeler’s 25 tallies, including five treys. HCHS was led by Mason Freece’s 10.

No details were reported on the girls’ contest in time for this story. The Lady Bulldogs sagged to 2-9.

FRIDAY

(G) Southwest Livingston 45, Hale/Bosworth 19

(B) Southwest Livingston 66, Hale/Bosworth 62

HALE — Having passed 1,000 career points his previous time out, Hale/Bosworth senior Jaeden Sears played as if he wanted to get another 1,000 before his final high school campaign expired, netting 30 points, but that and his teammates’ output wasn’t enough to keep the Cardinals’ title hopes alive.

Needing to win to draw even in the “losses” column with the Wildcats and Northwestern in what almost could have been considered a fraternal fracas, considering Sears and fellow starter Ethan Hoerr were All-State members of Southwest Livingston’s state-title-winning football team less than two months before, Hale/Bosworth needed only win the final eight minutes to do just that.

Having overcome a 15-10 deficit after one period to lead 27-25 at the half, the Cardinals found themselves and the visiting Wildcats knotted at 37-37 after three.

Then both sides cranked up their offenses, following the combined 74 points of the first 24 minutes with a composite 54 in the closing eight.

Southwest Livingston guard Chase Neptune drilled two triples, three of five free throws, and a deuce for 11 of his team-high 23 points to pace the road team to a 29-25 advantage in the fourth frame and the victory.

Wesley Hughes was a perfect four of four at the free-throw line down the stretch and Morgan Anderson four of five as SLHS made 12 of 18 in the last period.

The home-standing Cardinals (10-4, 5-2 conf.) were even better at the line when the pressure was on, but didn’t get as many chances. They made six of eight in the last segment.

While Neptune was netting his 11 points during the stretch run, Sears was ringing up the last nine of his 30, Drake Heussner was popping two treys and three of four free throws for another nine, and Hoerr was putting up seven.

That trio actually scored nearly all of Hale/Bosworth’s points. Hoerr tacked 18 onto Sears’ 30 and Heussner’s big finish gave him 12.

For Southwest Livingston, Patrick Warren provided a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds, along with five steals, coach Julie Bothwell reported, while Anderson scored 12 points and snared six caroms. We. Hughes earned six assists and Owen Oesch five, along with six boards.

In the girls’ contest, Kailey Hulett was collecting her share and more of missed shots, piling up a potential SLHS record 25 rebounds, according to Bothwell, as SLHS’ Lady Wildcats prevailed comfortably. She also had six points.

Makenna Campbell’s 16 points, 13 rebounds double-double to help power the SLHS girls (5-4, 4-1 conf.) to their victory. Fellow senior Lily Webb and young Ilyce Peel each matched eight points with eight steals; Webb tacked on four assists. 

The Lady Cardinals (0-12, 0-6 conf.) got seven points apiece from Emily Worman and Karter Burnside.

(G) Tina-Avalon 55, Orrick 11; (B) Orrick 46, Tina-Avalon 24

TINA — Haley Rucker’s 20 points – 11 of them in the opening quarter – led the Lady Dragons to a Friday romp past overmatched Orrick.

K. Rounkles added 11 points as TAHS coach Trent Moore used his two reserves extensively to try to keep the legs of his front five as fresh as possible for the next night’s key battle with Norborne.

The Dragons kept OHS’ Bearcats relatively in check on offense, but couldn’t muster much of an attack themselves.

Jaxon Miller’s 12 points led Orrick. Kayden Sturgeon had a game-high 13, including three triples.

(G) Polo 50, Princeton 25; (B) Princeton 51, Polo 38

POLO — The host Lady Panthers easily tucked win No. 16 in their hip pockets.

Polo’s girls (16-1, 5-1 conf.) led the Grand River Conference-East game 29-12 by halftime and continued to ease away the last 16 minutes.

Leading the winners’ attack was Mary Copeland with 12 points. Lauren Krohn had 10 for Princeton’s girls.

The visiting Tigers were tested soundly by the Panthers for a half, leading only 24-22 at intermission. However, a 17-7 third quarter for the guests essentially settled the issue.

Trent Raby’s 18 points paced Polo (3-14, 0-6 conf.). Princeton had three dual-digits scorers.

(G) Brunswick 42, Mendon: Northwestern 28

(B) Mendon: Northwestern 59, Brunswick 34

MENDON — While Brunswick’s Wildcats had been playing much better of late, including bolting to a 13-6 lead after one period Friday, their northern neighbors weren’t having any of it in the last three segments.

The host Eagles (10-1, 5-1 conf.) pulled ahead 19-17 by halftime, then owned the second half 40-17.

Hunter Stockwell’s 17 points led the NHS attack with Isaac Zahner sinking 13. Brunswick (5-8, 2-5 conf.) got 11 from Gus Kussman in the CLAA contest.

BHS’ Lady Wildcats (6-6, 3-4 conf.) actually trailed the struggling Lady Eagles (3-8, 1-4 conf.) 14-11 at halftime, but came to life in the second half to win handily.

Addi Riley’s 13 points led Brunswick.Alexa McCollum had 10 for Northwestern.

(G) Plattsburg 44, Hamilton: Penney 37

(B) Plattsburg 53, Hamilton: Penney 40

HAMILTON — Despite being at home, things didn’t go well for the Penney High squads in KCI Conference action Friday as both trailed most of the way.

Brighton Swindler scored 14 points and Somers Finch 11 in the loss by the Lady Hornets (6-9, 0-3 conf.).

Andrew Rich had 15 markers as the Hornets (3-0, 1-2 conf.) came up short.

(G) Norborne 67, Kingsville 32; Norborne 46, Kingsville 44

KINGSVILLE — The visiting Pirates nipped Kingsville by two to get their third triumph of the season after the Lady Pirates more than doubled the hosts.

No specifics on either contest were reported.