CLAA hoops tourney resumption Tuesday had some hot shooting on very cold night
All eight quarterfinal games won by higher seeds as dual sites utilized
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
As the weather pendulum seemingly begins to swing back slowly from its arctic-like temperatures extreme of the past few days and the repetitive snows of varying volumes, the annual Carroll-Livingston Activity Association high school basketball tournament emerged from an 8-days hibernation this past Tuesday and saw a couple of hot shooting performances on a cold, cold night.
Now apparently on a path to completion which was in doubt as late as early that day, the tournament utilized two sites – traditional host Tina-Avalon School and nearby Hale – to shoehorn all eight quarterfinal-round games into one evening, setting up a championship-semifinals night Wednesday and finals on Thursday.
Advancing to the semifinals were the top four seeds in each gender division, all of which prevailed by double-digits margins with the final game to finish the closest with an 11-points final spread.
By site, Tuesday’s contests played out like this:
(B) Southwest Livingston 58, Braymer 31
(G) Southwest Livingston 51, Mendon: Northwestern 38
(B) Hale/Bosworth 58, Brunswick 40
(G) Braymer 49, Brunswick 33
HALE — While both ended up winning by margins in the teens, both No. 3 seeds – Southwest Livingston’s girls and Hale/Bosworth’s boys – had challenges into the second half.
SLHS’ Lady Wildcats cut things the closest, thanks to their difficulty keeping defensive track of Northwestern guard Alexa McCollum.
After leading by six points after one quarter and seven after two, Southwest Livingston found its lead shaved to two, 33-31, in the final half-minute of the third after McCollum, who’d had a trey in each of the first two segments, lit it up from beyond the arc three times in the third.
However, when Makenna Campbell netted the final basket of the third stanza to give the higher seed a 35-31 advantage going to the fourth, it ignited a 16-7 closing push that prevented any drama down the stretch.
McCollum, who found the mark from deep one last time in the fourth frame, was the contest’s leading scorer with 20 points. Teammates Alayna Adams and Halie Smith added 10 and nine, respectively, as the Lady Eagles (4-13) were bounced from the now-abbreviated tournament (the consolation bracket was eliminated to pave the way for champions to be crowned in the limited available time).
Campbell’s 16 tallies topped Southwest (11-5). Right behind, after hitting four trifectas herself, was Matney Waters with 15 points. Lily Webb chipped in another nine.
Hale/Bosworth’s Cardinals (14-7) were in front of Brunswick only 25-21 at halftime in the evening’s finale at Hale before they checked the Wildcats (6-14) on only four points in the third quarter to nearly triple their lead to 36-25.
Making the difference for veteran Hale coach Keith Berger’s crew was Tristian Crose emerging as a fourth scoring source after halftime.
Scoreless before then, Crose hit a trey in the third period and a deuce and two free throws in the fourth to join steady scorer Jaeden Sears, Drake Heussner, and Ethan Hoerr in netting at least six points after intermission.
For the latter three, that output effectively matched what they’d done before that. Sears’ 11 points in the last half left him with a game-high 20, while Heussner’s nine raised his total to 17 and Hoerr’s six gave him 13 on the night. Heussner knocked down three triples.
Brunswick’s boys (6-14) also had three double-digits scorers, but none exceeded any of the Cardinals’ trio. Gus Kussman scored 13 points, Damon McCall 11 (including three treys), and Kobe Tatum 10.
Southwest Livingston’s boys (12-4) waltzed to a 27-points win that saw them leading 44-11 with about three minutes left in the third quarter before Braymer’s Carson Brame briefly lit a flame from outside the 3-points line.
Having led 36-9 at intermission, the defending champion Wildcats looked bound for a “running clock” fourth quarter until Brame perfectly framed four shots from downtown to score his team’s last 12 points of the third stanza to cut the Bobcats’ gap to 25.
The margin actually dipped to 20 within the first 70 seconds of the final period before the surge by Braymer (1-8) faded and Southwest eased away a bit again.
The victorious Wildcats were led offensively by Patrick Warren’s 19 points, 10 of which were posted in the second quarter and 17 before halftime. Chase Neptune nipped away at the Bobcats for 16 and Wesley Hughes had 11.
Braymer’s Brame didn’t score before or after his late-third-period eruption, but those 12 made him the only BHS player to have more than five points.
Southwest Livingston’s occasional Achilles’ heel – free-throw shooting – was less than stellar again, aside from Neptune. While the senior lefthander knocked down all four of his attempts, his teammates were a composite five of 14.
Braymer’s Lady ’Cats (5-3) steadily pulled away from Brunswick through the first three quarters to have the Lady Wildcats (8-10) doubled, 34-17, going to the fourth.
Braymer’s girls displayed exquisite scoring balance with guards Hallie Russell and Raylee Hawkins and post player Dallas Hall each coming away with 11 points. Russell had a trio of 3s.
Brunswick got a game-most 21 points from its top player, Addi Riley, but she was held to only six through the first three stanzas before canning three treys and three deuces in the last quarter.
(G) Norborne 77, Hale/Bosworth 22
(G) T-A 58, Hardin-Central 12
(B) Northwestern 64, Norborne 34
(B) Tina-Avalon 63, Hardin-Central 52
TINA — The only one of the four games at Tina-Avalon School which was in any doubt after halftime was the last one, which still saw the host Dragons (7-11) lead virtually start to finish.
Hardin-Central exploited its inside-scoring advantage, particularly with forward Mason Freece, to make a run early in the fourth, drawing within seven. However, T-A effectively managed the clock over the final 5-6 minutes and, behind Trent Grossman and Kylier Sturgeon, sank eight of its nine free throws in the last period to hold on with some room to spare.
The Sturgeon brothers – Kylier and Kaden – popped in three treys each on their way to 18 markers for younger brother Kylier and 16 for Kaden. Grossman rounded out a strong trio of T-A point producers with 15. For the game, Chillicothe High alumnus Trent Moore’s team hit 15 of its 20 foul shots as it gained a 31-21 halftime lead and 47-36 advantage after three periods.
The game’s leading scorer was Freece, who put 30 points on ice for the Bulldogs (6-12), almost all of them on short-range shots.
The boys’ win made it a fully-satisfying night for Moore, whose Lady Dragons overwhelmed Hardin-Central.
The second-seeded T-A girls (13-3) led 30-4 at halftime, surrendering only two points in each of the first two segments. The rout improved only slightly after intermission with the Lady Dragons outscoring the Lady Bulldogs (6-11) 28-8.
Four players from the host school scored in double digits. Kadie Rounkles led with 17 points, Haley Rucker and Samantha Rounkles had 15 each, and Regan Crowe rang up 11.
McKenzie Smith’s six topped HCHS as it was ousted from the tourney.
The girls’ No. 1 seed already had won by more than the 46 Tina-Avalon’s ladies did.
Norborne, the defending champs, netted at least 21 points in each of the first three quarters on its way to a 55-points triumph over Hale/Bosworth.
NHS’ Lady Pirates (16-2), with four of their six players being seniors, were led in scoring by Melanie Cheney’s 22 points, one more than Olivia Dooley produced. Kayla Dooley netted 15 and Kate Brown 12.
Karter Burnside had eight for the Lady Cardinals (1-18).
Whereas Northwestern’s McCollum rang the bell downtown six times in the Lady Eagles’ loss at Hale, school mate Isaac Zahner fired in a half-dozen “long rangers” at Tina-Avalon, but in a winning cause.
His 24 points paced Northwestern’s boys (16-2) to their expected runaway, even without top player Hunter Stockwell participating.
The pivot was barely missed with Zahner having the hot hand from deep. The boys from Mendon seized a 15-7 lead after one period and had NHS’ Pirates (5-14) doubled, 32-16, at the half. An 18-5 finishing kick pushed the final margin up to an even 30 points.In addition to Zahner’s two dozen tallies, fellow guard Clayton Gregory popped in 15 for Northwestern. Norborne had 12 from Jonathen Miller, nine by Keaton Andrews, and eight from Kobe Gibson.