Area high school basketball tourney crowns to Meadville teams, Norborne girls

Jumbled week of games concluded with busy day Saturday

As reported to C-T
Emblematic of what carried the team to a stirring comeback victory in the Meadville Invitational Tournament championship semifinals Friday and then a title-game triumph Saturday, 6’3” sophomore Parker Hammond (25) of the Meadville High School Eagles blocks a second-half shot attempt of Hale/Bosworth star Jaeden Sears Friday. After allowing 33 first-half points in that contest, MHS held the Cardinals to only 15 in the second half to win by four and then kept potentially-explosive Grundy County R-5/Newtown-Harris’s offense generally under wraps in a 57-50 for the title win Saturday.

After weather and COVID-19 complications, the four high school basketball tournaments around the region which involved C-T-area teams (not including Chillicothe) rushed to a conclusion Saturday with a busier-than-planned final day which left three area squads possessing titles.

At Meadville, in an oft-seen scenario over the years, both host teams emerged as champions, while, at Keytesville, Norborne’s girls came away with their expected crown.

Settling for second-place finishes among area clubs, were Southwest Livingston’s boys and girls at Keytesville and Hamilton’s girls in their own event.

Meadville High School basketball Lady Eagles sophomore reserve Lilly Raymo goes up for one of three fast-break layups she hit in the first quarter of last Friday’s championship semifinal win over Mendon: Northwestern. This shot gave MHS a 16-0 lead and it eventually would post the game’s first 29 points over the first 10-plus minutes on its way to a 42-6 halftime lead and 63-10 victory. The top-seeded hosts claimed the tourney crown the next night with a come-from-behind win over Mercer.

      MEADVILLE TOURNAMENT

(G 1st) Meadville 48, Mercer 36

(B 1st) Meadville 57, Grundy County R-5/Newtown-Harris 50

(G 3rd) Tina-Avalon 66, Mendon: Northwestern 29

(B 3rd) Mendon: Northwestern 51, Hale/Bosworth 48

(B cons.) Tina-Avalon 38, Linn County 32

(G cons.) Bucklin/Macon County R-4 39, Linn County 32

Having successfully adjusted to the injury absence of one starter to come from double-digits behind in the second half of their 52-48 semifinal win the evening before, Meadville’s boys made their defensive adjustments work again Saturday to best a foe which had strafed top-seeded Mendon: Northwestern for 74 points less than 24 hours earlier.

Following a stunning 21-points second-quarter tsunami from GCR5/N-H freshman Corbin Axtell on his way to 30 points in Friday’s 74-42 semifinal decimation of the No. 1 seed, second-seeded Meadville (12-5) held the lefthander to three field goals and 13 points, easing its task of taking the title Saturday.

The Eagles unleashed a buzzsaw of their own in senior Trey Gannan in the opening period. He rang up 16 of MHS’ 20 first-frame tallies as the hosts seized a 20-11 lead. 

While the Panthers eventually were within 46-44 going to the last period, Meadville, playing without injured guard Kaje Tsikoyak, held them to only six points in it and hit enough free throws to add some space in the waning moments.

Gannan finished with 30 points of his own, supported by Conner Fletcher’s 17. Caden Gann topped Grundy County R-5/Newtown-Harris with 23.

Meadville’s top-seeded girls (15-2) found themselves trailing 25-19 at halftime, but claimed their crown by twice that margin after a 29-11 second-half clinic .

Only four Lady Eagles scored in the contest, but each had at least five points in the second half, paced by Mallory Dennis’ 10 and Kiera Holcer’s nine. At the other end of the floor, Mercer’s Lady Cardinals were being limited to four second-half field goals, only one of which came in the last stanza.

Overall, sophomore guard Dennis’ 16 points led the winners with Ki. Holcer netting 14 and freshman sister Korrie adding 11. Krysta Meyers provided the champs’ other seven.

Mercer’s Tori Meinecke led all scorers with 24 points, 18 of which were registered prior to intermission.

Embarrassed by Axtell and GCR5/N-H’s Panthers a night earlier, Northwestern’s boys (13-2) recovered in time to slip past Hale/Bosworth for a third time this season, this time by three.

Senior guard Isaac Zahner of the Mendon: Northwestern Eagles tries to keep his team “in touch” with the red-hot Grundy County R-5/Newtown-Harris Panthers with a driving layup early in the second quarter of last Friday’s championship-semifinal game in the Meadville Invitational high school basketball tournament. The bucket cut the Eagles’ deficit to 27-13, but GCR5/N-H was not to be denied, riding 21 second-period points by freshman Corbin Axtell to a 49-23 halftime lead on its way to a 74-42 win over the tourney’s No. 1 seed.

Guard Clayton Gregory was the wind beneath the NHS Eagles’ wings with a game-high 26 points. Hale/Bosworth’s Cardinals (11-6) had a game-high 32 from forward Jaeden Sears.

Tina-Avalon’s Lady Dragons (10-3), thumped hard (58-37) by Mercer the night before after being more competitive against it in a prior meeting, had no difficulty with Northwestern’s girls in the third-place game.

Samantha Rounkles showed the way with 32 points of her own, buttressed by 15 from Regan Crowe and 10 from Kadie Rounkles. NHS’ Lady Eagles (4-10) got 13 from Halie Smith.

T-A’s Dragons (6-9) copped consolation by out-scoring Linn County’s Mustangs (1-9) 16-4 in the third period to seize a 29-19 lead. Kylier Sturgeon continued his recent hot run on offense with a game-high 16 points. LCHS got 14 from Cody Murrell.

Playing minus top player Morgan Livingston, LCHS’ girls (5-6) fell to Bucklin/Macon County R-4 in their consolation contest. Alyssa Bukovac led the Lady Mustangs with 13 points.

Capping a terrific first half – especially a final 5-1/2 minutes stretch – for his Hale/Bosworth Cardinals team, guard Ethan Hoerr manages to get a final-seconds shot off and in over the defending arms of Meadville’s Riley Ryan (23) and Trey Gannan (5) for a 33-20 Cardinals lead at halftime in Friday’s championship-semifinals game. The tide turned swiftly in the second half, though. as Meadville rallied to tie and then take the lead before the third quarter ended and eventually moved in front for keeps with about 5-1/2 minutes remaining, eventually downing Hale/Bosworth 52-48.

In Friday’s championship semifinals, besides the stunning second quarter by GCR5/N-H’ Axtell that helped give his team a commanding 49-23 lead over No. 1 seed Northwestern, the key development was the Meadville boys’ intermission adjustment to the absence of Tsikoyak, who seemingly sustained a knee injury in a collision in the early minutes of the contest.

Behind Hale/Bosworth 33-20 midway through after being riddled by Cardinals point guard Ethan Hoerr for 14 points, the Eagles had time to reorganize their defensive approach, which flipped the script.

After halftime, Hoerr was held to two points and the Cardinals to a mere 15, while Meadville racked up 32, including a combined 24 from its top tandem of Gannan and Fletcher. The Eagles actually took the lead during the third period, although it ended with Hale/Bosworth up 41-40. MHS took the lead for keeps at 45-44 on a Fletcher trey with about 5-1/2 minutes left. A Gannan free throw that made it a 4-points lead with just under 11 seconds to go effectively closed the door on the Cardinals.

“With the injury to Tsikoyak, it made us make defense adjustments we weren’t prepared for,” MHS coach Drew Nier confirmed. “Thought, in the second half, we buckled down and got to playing better defensively.”

      KEYTESVILLE TOURNAMENT

(G) Norborne 63, Southwest Livingston 29

(B) Wellsville-Middletown 67, Southwest Livingston 32

Facing a faraway foe, Southwest Livingston’s top-seeded Wildcats (9-4) couldn’t get any first-half traction, coach Julie Bothwell reported, relegating them to distant runnerup status, just as their female counterparts had assumed in the prior contest Saturday.

“Not how we wanted this Saturday to go,” the Southwest Livingston coach admitted.

No other details on the boys’ game were available prior to the posting of this story.

The girls’ championship game saw a 13-points differential (31-18) at halftime double in the third quarter as Norborne’s Lady Pirates (11-2) outscored SLHS’ Lady Wildcats (9-5) 15-2 to put the contest far out of reach.

“Beyond proud of the girls and their 4-quarters, buzzer-to-buzzer work,” praised Bothwell.

Olivia Dooley’s 19 points led NHS, whose five starters all had at least eight tallies. Melanie Cheney popped in 14 and Kayla Dooley 13. The Dooleys and Kate Brown combined for eight 3-pointers.

Southwest’s girls were led by Makenna Campbell’s 11 points.

The SLHS teams had advanced to the championship games, as expected, with Friday conquests.

The Wildcats swamped Norborne’s boys (4-11) 86-38, amassing a 54-16 halftime spread behind very hot shooting. Senior guard Chase Neptune rifled in a half-dozen triples and 25 points in the opening half, including four treys and 15 tallies in the second stanza alone. According to Bothwell, he did not try a shot from long range after intermission.

Wesley Hughes had a career outing, with 25 points on four treys, three deuces, and 7-of-8 free-throw shooting. He also posted team highs of eight assists, eight rebounds, and four steals, the coach reported.

Remington Woodcock scored 10 points off the bench, while Patrick Warren had eight rebounds, eight points, and six assists and Owen Oesch five helpers.

As a team, the Wildcats strafed Norborne for 60% shooting (12 of 20) from 3-points land.

The Pirates, who were ripped by Higbee 78-45 in Saturday’s third-place game, got 11 points from Kobe Gibson against Southwest.

Friday’s SLHS semifinal against a Brunswick team which had a couple of starters who had missed the clubs’ previous Carroll-Livingston Activity Association contest, ended in a 45-31 Southwest Livingston triumph.

The all-Lady Wildcats duel tilted second-seeded Southwest’s way early. Campbell’s 10 tallies in the opening frame powered a 16-7 lead before Brunswick failed to make a basket in the second quarter and fell behind 25-9.

Statistically, Southwest Livingston especially shined on the glass, having two rebounders in double digits and a third close. Matney Waters ripped down 18 caroms, Kailey Hulett 10, and reserve Ilyce Peel eight.

“A good game for my girls, especially on the boards,” Bothwell commented.

Waters also had eight points and a team-leading seven assists. Campbell’s 15 points led the SLHS scoring.

Brunswick’s girls, 7-8 after being shaded 30-26 by Wellsville-Middletown Saturday for third place, had 12 points from Harleigh Lewis in Friday’s battle with Southwest.

In their semifinal cakewalk Friday, Norborne’s girls had four twin-digits scorers, led by Brown’s 22 points, mostly on a half-dozen triples over the last three quarters. Gracie McKinney chipped in 14 markers and Cheney and O. Dooley 10 each.

Although no specifics were reported in time for inclusion in this article, Brunswick’s boys (5-11) fell short in their consolation contest Saturday, losing to Bevier 33-31, and Keytesville’s Lady Tigers (1-7) were trounced by future CLAA member Higbee 77-27 in their consolation final.

    HAMILTON TOURNAMENT

(G 1st) East Buchanan 47, Hamilton: Penney 33

(B cons.) Hamilton 42, Lathrop 41

In what served as a de facto championship game of the girls’ division, Saturday’s winners’ bracket round-robin finale saw East Buchanan storm to a 15-4 lead after one quarter and 26-12 halftime advantage before the final half was played to a draw.

The champion Lady Bulldogs got 15 points from Erin McPike, 14 from Maya Watkins, and 11 from Kenzie Woodside. Hamilton: Penney’s Brighton Swindler scored 14 and Somers Finch 13 to account for all except six of the Lady Hornets’ points.

The Lady Hornets had earned their crack at the crown by squeezing past Lathrop 46-41 on Friday. Swindler’s 17 points and Finch’s 13 had paced that triumph with Madi Allen adding eight. Lathrop was led by Maycee Nichols’ 14 and Autumn Nichols 10.

Hamilton’s boys barely held on Saturday after leading 29-18 after three periods, making seven of 10 free throws, including Jared Potts sinking four straight late to get the Hornets to the wire in front.

Potts posted a team-high 18 points with Andrew Rich netting 11 and Stephen Henry nine. Lathrop’s Nick Knight had half of the Mules’ 28 fourth-quarter points to also finish with 18.

The boys’ championship went to Lafayette County (Higginsville) in a tough, high-scoring battle with Gallatin, 72-66. Mason Rumsey’s 30 points led four Huskers in twin-figures scoring. Isaac Bird led GHS’ Bulldogs with 27.

      NORTH PLATTE TOURNAMENT

(G) Mid-Buchanan 47, Polo 38

(B) North Andrew 60, Polo 31

Stunned by Plattsburg by 14 points in their tourney opener back on Tuesday, the Polo girls suffered a second-straight loss and were ousted from the tournament at Dearborn Friday after beginning the week with a 16-1 record.

Mid-Buchanan got scoring from five sources as it bolted ahead 21-9 after one quarter and led by seven or more most of the rest of the game.

PHS’ Lady Panthers (16-3) had Lily Gentry with 12 points and three others with seven or nine.

Chloe Gilbert’s 13 had paced the team in the Tuesday loss.

Zadin Owen’s seven markers topped the meager output of the Panthers (3-16) in their double-up loss to North Andrew Friday.

      NON-TOURNAMENT

(B) Orrick 68, Hardin-Central 50

(B) Hardin-Central 61, Breckenridge 32

HARDIN — Hardin-Central’s Bulldogs split home games Friday and Saturday, capturing the postponed (from last Tuesday) CLAA contest to go to 5-2 in the loop.

Against the strong Orrick Bearcats Friday, the final margin was deceiving, considering OHS led 27-6 after one period and 45-16 at the half.

Although the “running clock” rules were in use when the fourth period began with a 57-27 difference, the Bulldogs quickly turned them off and, with broad-based scoring had the gap under 20 by game’s end.

Trevor Gibson’s 15 points led HCHS in the loss.

Saturday’s visit from Breckenridge saw Hardin-Central’s Bulldogs (5-9) strengthen their seeding position for the upcoming CLAA Tournament. 

They scored 17 points in each of the first two periods to double the winless Bulldogs (0-9, 0-6 conf.), then fired in 23 points in the third frame to triple BHS, 57-19.

Individually, Korbin Pugh’s four treys and 18 points paced the winners. Mason Freece added 11 and J.W. Doyle 10. Breckenridge’s co-ed club was led by 11 Jayden Lewis markers. Kylee Allred and Eric Morgan chipped in five apiece.