COLUMBIA -- Bell City's boys basketball team wrapped up its second Class 1 state title in three years with a 74-62 win over St. Elizabeth on Saturday night at the Hearnes Center.
Bell City senior star guard Dominitrix Johnson put on the top show of the day, scoring 40 points as he nearly singlehandedly carried the Cubs to victory.
After a nip and tuck first three quarters, Bell City (29-4) picked up its defensive intensity in the fourth quarter and was able to win going away.
Bell City had to rely on Johnson without strong performances from seniors Randy Conn and Zak McIntyre. McIntyre fouled out with five minutes left in the fourth quarter after scoring only three points. Conn only managed six points.
But the seniors were picked up by sophomore Jeff Liggins, who finished with 13 points.
St. Elizabeth (22-9) continued to hang around after three quarters, trailing only 55-50 going into the final period.
Johnson continued to lead the way for the Cubs, scoring eight of their 13 points in the third quarter to raise his total to 31 points entering the final period.
Bell City could not shake the Hornets in the first half despite the best efforts of Johnson, who scored 23 points as the Cubs led 42-40 at the intermission.
St. Elizabeth was led by Craig Luetkemeyer with 17 points.
After averaging a quiet 24.7 points per game throughout the playoffs, Johnson was a man possessed Saturday night. Johnson came out on fire, scoring Bell City's first five points.
After allowing some of his teammates to get involved, Johnson scored 11 of Bell City's final 13 points to finish the quarter with 16.
"I put it in my mind at the beginning of the game I was going to score every shot I get," Johnson said.
Early in the second period Johnson continued his torrid pace, wracking up Bell City's first seven points of the quarter. After that Johnson went cold from the field, which allowed St. Elizabeth to get back into the game.
St. Elizabeth outscored Bell City 15-9 and got within 42-40 at halftime as Johnson went scoreless the rest of the quarter.
"I wasn't worried," Johnson said of his brief second-quarter slump. "If I missed them at first, I was just going to keep shooting."
In the second half Johnson got back on track, scoring Bell City's last six points of the third quarter to help the Cubs open up a 55-50 lead. In the fourth quarter Johnson added another nine points as Bell City went ahead by as many as 15 points late in the fourth.
"We were hoping we could pull just one more out," St. Elizabeth coach T.J. Loethen said. "We
hit a couple of shots, but Dominitrix just kept answering."
Johnson's 40 points gave him the fourth highest point total in a state final game. The 40 points also put him in a tie for the 11th highest single-game point total in MSHSAA Show-Me Showdown history.
"He's a stud," Loethen said. "He took over the game. That's what good players do."
Over the four-game state play-off schedule Johnson finished with 114 points, falling just short of the top 20 all-time. Johnson's final four total of 62 points ranks him 11th all time.
Bell City coach David Heeb, who has coached Johnson for most of his life, said he knew Johnson was going to take them home after a pre-game talk.
"We had a little heart to heart before the game," he said. "He told me when he was going out there this one's for you."