(Photo by Derek James, Staff)
The winners bracket of the tournament went according to seed as No. 1 seed Scott City got by fifth-seeded Scott County Central 82-67, and No. 2 Bell City slipped by No. 3 Twin Rivers in overtime, 72-69.
Scott City and Bell City will play for the championship tonight at 8 p.m.
Fourth-seeded Kelly, which beat Oran's JV 67-21, will play No. 7 Richland for the consolation championship at 5 p.m.
Twin Rivers and Scott Central will play in the third place game at 6:30.
In a game that was surrounded by a playoff-type atmosphere, Bell City was able to hold off four-time defending champion Twin Rivers to advance to the title game for the first time since 1983.
Standout point guard Dominitrix Johnson led all scorers with 37 points.
"This was a statement game for Dom," said Bell City head coach David Heeb. "He's had to listen to all this nonsense that he's just a good player at a small school. Well tonight he showed that he can do it against a good Class 3 team as well."
Bell City (2-0) appeared to have the game well in hand as they led 59-50 with 3:53 left in the game.
But the Royals threw on a full-court press that gave the Cubs fits, leading to the big comeback.
"We've got to find somebody besides Dom that can handle the ball," said Heeb. "We've got a lot of seniors out there, but they don't have game experience in situations like tonight. It actually surprised me that we had that much trouble with the press because we practice against it all the time."
The Royals actually took the lead with 24 seconds left when 6-foot-4 forward Matt Stanford scored on the inside to make it 64-63.
Five seconds later the Royals fouled Johnson, who tied the game with a free throw.
The Royals had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Twin Rivers sophomore Michael Lance missed a floater in the lane with five-tenths of a second left.
In overtime, Bell City made 4-of-6 free throws and sophomore Jeff Liggins scored a pair of inside baskets to help build a lead.
Stanford attempted a 3-pointer with time winding down but it was off the mark as the Cubs cleared the rebound to secure the win.
Twin Rivers was led by Lance's 21 points, but the smooth-shooting lefty was uncharacteristically bad from the free throw line, making just 7-of-17 attempts.
"I think it's just a mental think with him," said Twin Rivers head coach Jim Vaughan. "He shoots his free throws different from his jump-shot. We'll get it corrected, but right now it's mental."
Neither team had much success from the line as Twin Rivers was just 11-of-25 while Bell City was 19-of-35. Johnson was just 9-of-16 from the charity stripe.
The game was close throughout. Bell City led 31-29 at the half but they led by as much as 12 in the third quarter. Johnson scored 12 points in the third period alone.
"We thought we could shield his left and make him go right," said Vaughan. "We wanted to steer him to the right instead of allowing him a straight line to the right, but he is so quick that we couldn't get it done."
Liggins followed up Johnson with 10 points. Tyler Victor added nine points.
For Twin Rivers (1-1), Stanford had 12 points, Brandon Lowe added 11 and Jason Baucom, a 6-5 senior, scored eight of his 10 in the fourth quarter.
Scott City, which hasn't been in the tournament for a number of years, reached the title game for the first time since 1966 with a hard-fought win against the Braves.
The Rams blew a close game open in the fourth quarter, outscoring Scott Central 29-17.
"I think fatigue set in," said Scott Central head coach Melvin Porter. "We practiced a little (Wednesday) and the kids told me they were tired. I can't believe we were that tired though."
The Rams put the game away with some timely 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, making four of their eight.
"They really shot the ball well from the 3-point line," said Porter. "That was the difference in the game. They hit a couple long ones and that set the pace."
Scott Central led 15-13 after one quarter but the Rams established an inside game, pounding it in to 6-foot-9 center Tyler Ward, to take a 34-28 lead into halftime.
Ward not only scored 16 points, but his presence in the middle kept the Braves from driving in the lane, most notably, senior standout Chris Pullen, who finished with just 11 points while battling foul trouble.
Instead, Scott Central relied on perimeter shots for much of the night.
"They didn't stop us," said Porter. "We missed a lot of little easy shots. We had a lot of open looks but we just missed them."
But the Braves didn't go away.
Scott City led just 53-50 entering the fourth quarter and the Braves got to within two points early in the quarter.
But a big 3-pointer by Jeremy Schlosser gave the Rams some breathing room at 62-56 with 4:40 left.
Scott City pulled away from there.
Junior guard Avis White led the Braves with 16 points, including four 3-pointers.
Daniel Holman followed up with 14 points. Jeremy Johnson chipped in with 11 points.
Schlosser led Scott City with 22 points. Mark Johnston added 15, Andy Beck had 12 and Mark Dannenmueller scored 11.
The Kelly Hawks made quick work of Oran's junior varsity.
Kelly led 9-0 after one quarter and 31-8 at halftime. They pulled away even further in the third, leading 53-12 entering the fourth quarter.
The mercy rule kept the clock running the entire fourth quarter.
Kelly was led by Chris Romas' 16 points. Kent Deason added 13 and Trent Walter chipped in with 10.
Oran was led by 6-2 freshman Chase Seyer, with eight points.