FARMINGTON -- Poplar Bluff's Tyler Hansbrough scored 23 of his game-high 31 points in the second half as the Mules advanced to the MSHSAA Class 5, District 1 championship game Tuesday with a 65-44 win over the host.
After hitting 9-of-23 shots in the first half, Poplar Bluff (20-6) led by just two at the break during which coach John David Pattillo reminded his players about the high-percentage shots.
"I told my guys to throw it to (Tyler) - that's great coaching isn't it," Pattillo joked, adding that he didn't want to repeat what was said in the locker room.
Whatever it was worked. Hansbrough scored the first seven points of the second half for the Mules. That opened up a 3-pointer for younger brother Ben in the corner for a 34-25 lead just 1:57 after intermission.
Poplar Bluff finished the frame with an 11-3 run and never looked back.
"The second half was a big boost for us because we did the things we had to do," Pattillo said. "Tonight, we knew we had to throw it inside and when we did we were effective."
Ben Hansbrough finished with nine points and six assists while seniors Devon Brown and Anthony Gilberto each scored eight for the Mules, who led wire-to-wire.
Ben Arand led Farmington (15-13) with 15 points, scoring 10 to rally the Knights in the second quarter.
Farmington didn't score until nearly three minutes into the contest and trailed 13-6 when Ben Hansbrough's steal led to a 3 by Brad Chronister to finish the opening quarter.
The lead grew to 13 when Tyler Hansbrough scored on a spin move in the paint and was fouled. The junior missed his free throw but followed it down the lane and threw down a dunk for a 19-6 lead with 4:44 left in the half.
Farmington answered with an 11-0 run capped by a 3 from Arand who hit another in the final minute to pull the Knights within four. A putback by Matt Usherwood cut Poplar Bluff's lead to 24-22 at halftime.
"That second quarter we backed off defensively and then we also weren't very smart on the offensive end," Pattillo said. "They did a good job of taking advantage of that."
On their first possession of the second half, Hansbrough scored from the low post but Arand hit a 3 from the top of the key to cut the lead one.
Gilberto then broke the Knights' press but missed a layup leading to Tyler Hansbrough's putback dunk. After Ben took a charge on the other end, Tyler picked up a 3-point play and Gilberto picked off an inbound pass leading to a 3 by Ben for a 34-25 lead.
Farmington pulled within seven a 3-pointer by Schuyler Semar but Tyler Hansbrough scored after Glen Yandell got an offensive board to start a 9-0 run that ended with a Gilberto 3-pointer from the corner.
The Mules led 51-35 heading into the final quarter and finished with an 8-0 run over the final two minutes.
Poplar Bluff advanced to the district final for the third straight year and reached 20 wins in each of the past three seasons - a first for the program. They play Jackson in Thursday's 7:30 p.m. final.
FARMINGTON - The third meeting between Central and Jackson's boys' basketball teams Tuesday night at the Farmington Civic Center was as much about who was not in the lineup as who was.
With the Tigers missing three starters who were suspended for the season several weeks ago, Jackson had to play without its main offensive threat, Tyler McNeely, who was out with a back injury.
Jackson was able to make the best use of what it had left and defeated Central 49-41 in the semifinals of the Class 5 District 1 tournament.
The Indians (22-4), who beat Central in all three games this year, will play Poplar Bluff in the finals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
A once-promising Central season ended at 17-9.
"Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make the district championship and we achieved that," Jackson coach Mike Kiehne said.
Jackson's road to the district final was rather bumpy early on Tuesday.
The Tigers came out fired up and battled back and forth for an 11-8 first-quarter lead. Central was able to do pretty much all of its damage without junior Eli Harris, who reinjured his knee a minute into the game and did not return. A signature high-flying dunk by Central senior Ryan Delph highlighted Central's early success.
Unlike the last meeting, Central was able keep Jackson's post players off the boards in the first half. Jason Schafer managed only two points in the first half, and Jackson's other big men were held scoreless.
"They did a good job on him," Kiehne said of Central's defense on Schafer. "They knew he was our inside threat."
With the Tigers up 19-13 late in the half, Jackson used its first of two key
runs to grab the lead by halftime. Tyler Beussink started the run with a lay-in, and Brad Eaton and Jack Puisis hit back-to-back 3-pointers to take a 21-19 lead into the break.
"That late run gave us some momentum, and it gave us some confidence," Kiehne said.
The second half belonged to Schafer. The Indians continued to pound the ball inside, counting on Schafer's inside presence to secure the lead.
Schafer scored seven of Jackson's 11 points in the quarter to help Jackson open a comfortable 32-23 lead heading into the fourth. Jackson scored the last eight points of the third quarter.
"He took over in the second half," Central coach Derek McCord said of Schafer.
While the Indians pounded the ball inside, Central couldn't get anything going. The Tigers managed only two baskets in the third quarter and were scoreless over the first four minutes of the fourth.
For the game, Central shot only 32 percent from the field. That poor shooting carried over to the free-throw line, where the Tigers were 7 of 19.
"It was a really ugly game," McCord said. "The difference was Jackson made shots, and we didn't. It was hard to get into our pressure because of our shooting."
Schafer led Jackson with 15 points, 13 coming in the second half.
While most of those points came inside, it was a deep 3-pointer midway through the third that sealed Central's fate. Brad Eaton added 10 points for Jackson.
Schafer said with McNeely out he knew he would have to step up for Jackson to win.
"Tyler was not there, so we figured they would not double down as much," he said. "Coach told me to get the ball and do what I had to. It just took me a while to get my shot going."
For the Tigers, a season filled with high hopes ended without another shot at the Mules. Central will graduate top scorer Delph along with seniors Jake Knepp and Todd Obergoenner.
Delph led Central with 18 points, and Knepp added 11. Delph finished his career with 1,132 points, second all-time at Central.
"Not the way we wanted to end the season, but boy our three seniors each just hung in there and played hard. What a career Knepp and Delph had."
Jackson will be playing for its first district title since 1998 without McNeely, who is out for the remainder of the season.
"Our guys understand they have to play a much different role," Kiehne said. "Luckily we have a day of practice."
-- Jeremy Joffray, SEMO News Service