ORAN -- All of the top seeds prevailed as the 50th annual Oran Invitational Tournament tipped off on Monday.
In the opener, top-seeded Twin Rivers ran past bottom seed Richland 73-30, then No. 2 Bell City romped to an 80-39 win over No. 7 Oran. The most competitive contest of the evening was the nightcap with No. 3 Malden holding off No. 6 Scott County Central 90-77.
Scott County Central, with a freshman and two sophomore starters, held its own against the junior-dominated lineup of Malden, which Scott Central coach David Heeb praised as "one of the more talented team he's coached against."
Trailing 23-14 after the first quarter, the Braves, behind sophomore transfer D.D. Gillespie's 11 second-quarter points and nine from senior Pershard Owens, cut the gap to 44-41 at the half.
Malden couldn't shake stubborn Scott Central as the third quarter expired with the Green Wave holding a slim 65-60 edge. But the Braves could get no closer as taller Malden controlled the boards in the final quarter, picking up several points on second and third-shot opportunities.
"We have to block out and rebound better," Heeb said.
Gillespie, an all-state guard at Bell City last season, used his quickness to get free for a game-high 30 points, including the Braves only two 3-pointers. Athletic 6-foot sophomore forward Caleb Johnson made an impressive varsity debut with 23 points and topped the Braves' rebounding. Owens finished with 10 points.
"Caleb was the best player on the floor tonight," said Heeb. Malden placed five players in double figures, led by point guard Alonzo Louis with 22. He knocked down four 3s.
Six-foot-five Robbie Ison scored 18, David Anderson had 16, Jonathan Henflig 15 and 6-4 Quentin Franks chipped in with 11.
The Cubs, with 6-10 center Will Bogan presenting all kinds of problems for the Oran Eagles, never trailed in the game.
Bogan led the Cubs with 16 points, but his hulking presence in the paint was probably more intimidating on the defensive end. Oran had difficulty getting points inside and was usually limited to a single shot attempt.
Further hurting the Eagles was the loss of their best inside scorer and rebounder Chase Seyer, forced to sit one game for a disciplinary issue.
Bell City led 20-12 going into the second period, then, capitalizing on an open-court game that produced several easy baskets off Oran turnovers, stretched the lead to 45-27 at the half.
"Basketball is a momentum game," said Bell City coach Brian Brandtner. "We came out a little sluggish and lackadaisical in the first quarter, then turned it on."
The Cubs' suffocating defense held the Eagles to just 12 second-half points as they rolled to a 67-32 third-quarter lead and a running clock for the entire fourth quarter on the way to the 80-39 final.
Oran coach Jason Andrews wasn't ready to concede all the credit to Bell City's defense.
"A lot of their defense resulted from our lack of ballhandling," he said. "We've got to learn to handle the ball better and fight through adversity."
Behind Bogan's 16, four other Cubs scored in double digits. Starters Nick Niemczyk and Phillip Gross tallied 12 apiece while Blaine Stewart and Marty Dames had 10 each.
Chris Asmus and Kody Campbell paced Oran with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Despite the runaway win by Bell City, Brandtner said, "We still have a long way to go. Our effort was good, but our execution must get better."
Twin Rivers set the tone early against the undermanned Rebels of Richland, rushing out of the gate for a 22-5 first-quarter lead.
Royals' scoring leader Michael Lance poured in 10 of his game-high 23 points in the opening period. Dexter Moore added 17 for Twin Rivers.
Richland, with only six healthy players, trailed 41-18 at the half.
Twin Rivers, playing reserves most of the way, outscored Richland 32-12 in the second half on the way to the 73-30 rout.
Cameron Whittaker paced the Rebels with 14 points.