POPLAR BLUFF -- Bell City beat Thayer with a balanced attack in Wednesday's 1A Sectional at Poplar Bluff, 77-69.
C.J. Hadly scored 24 points, followed by Eric Henry with 22 and Dominitrix Johnson with 20.
Kenyon Wright hit two huge 3-pointers and contributed nine points.
"That's been our M.O. all year," said Bell City head coach David Heeb. "We have a lot of guys that can shoot, and we like to spread it around. I told the guys in the locker room before the game that (Thayer's) zone may present opportunities for some of you to shoot it, and when it comes, you've got to knock it down."
The Cubs did exactly that, outscoring the highly-touted Bobcats 34-29 in the first half.
In the second half Bell City (26-5) dropped its man-to-man defense and came out with a full-court press. Worn out Thayer couldn't handle it, turning the ball over and missing several shots.
"We thought (Thayer) might handle it early because they would be ready for it," said Heeb. "We started off playing man-to-man, and tried to rotate a lot of kids in and out. We knew we could get them tired, and once we saw they were, we felt it was time to go to the press."
In the third quarter, Henry went to the bench with his fourth personal foul. Hadly then threw Bell City on his back, scoring 15 points to put the Cubs up 56-44.
"He really stepped it up," said Heeb. "At Christmas, Eric hurt his leg and missed three games. Dominitrix and C.J. really picked up their scoring at that time, and it really helped us learn how to play in situations where Eric may be in foul trouble or needs a breather. When he went out of the game tonight, we didn't miss a beat."
In the final quarter, it was Johnson's turn to take over. The 5-foot-9 sophomore point guard hit some unbelievable shots down the stretch as Bell City coasted to the 77-69 victory.
"(Dominitrix) is really tough," said Heeb. "At the end of the game, I wanted the ball in his hands more than anybody on the floor. He was driving in there on 6-3 and 6-2 guys with no fear at all. He's a winner. You can't say enough about the kid."
Josh Eubanks led Thayer with 25 points and 17 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 junior killed Bell City in the first three quarters, but the Cubs put Hadly on him in the final three minutes of regulation. Eubanks didn't touch the ball the rest of the game, allowing Bell City to hold on for the win.
Jonathan Smith scored 22 points for the Bobcats. For Bell City, Luke Phillips also contributed two points in the win. The Cubs will now face Crocker (25-5) on Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. in the 1A Quarterfinal at West Plains. The winner of that game will qualify for the Final Four.
"I told the kids tonight, Thayer is as good of a team as we'll see all year," said Heeb. "I figured one of us was probably going to make it to the Final Four. We've got a shot."