Scott County Central and Bell City took their heated rivalry on the road to the Perry Park Center for a down-to-the-wire 85-82 Braves' win. Then, in a battle of unbeatens, Charleston, top ranked in Class 3, fell 59-54 to Webster Groves, ranked fourth in Class 5.
In other action at Saturday's one-day shootout, Saxony Lutheran routed Christ Our Savior Lutheran (Evansville, Ill.) 73-29, St. Vincent toppled Meadow Heights 64-37, Perryville edged Chester (Ill.) 45-41, Belleville Althoff defeated Jackson 68-57, Lafayette tripped Cape Central 61-38 and White Station (Memphis) handled Vashon 56-46.
Scott Central Braves (5-1), the No. 2-ranked team in Missouri's Class 1, handed Class 1's fifth-ranked Bell City Cubs (4-4) their second loss in two meetings this season.
This 85-82 thriller was equal if not better than the initial encounter, a nailbiting 76-71 Scott Central victory.
"In a game like this, it's all out," said Scott Central coach Ronnie Cookson. "I didn't know this was on the schedule when I took the job. I might have changed my mind."
The Braves' Drew Thomas' 3-pointer knotted the score at 77 with 1:40 to go and the stalemate remained when Bell City missed both ends of a two-shot free-throw opportunity. Richard Brownlee's field goal sent the Braves up 79
-77 before Will Bogan's basket tied it again at 79 with a minute left.
With 34 seconds remaining, 6-1 Caleb Johnson, playing with four fouls, somehow scored off a difficult chance with the 6-10, 300-pound Bogan guarding him closely. Then following a Bell City turnover, Scott Central guard D.D. Gillespie hit one of two free throws for a three-point edge at 82-79. On the miss, Johnson made, arguably, the key play of the game, as he grabbed the rebound between two Bell City defenders and scored the putback for a seemingly insurmountable 84-79 lead with about 8 seconds left.
But downcourt came the Cubs quickly with perimeter sharpshooter Nick Niemcyzk draining a deep trey to tighten the gap to 84-82 with 4.9 seconds on the clock. After a quick foul, Thomas sank one of two from the charity stripe, but it still wasn't a lock as Bell City guard Melvin Johnson had a good look at a 3-pointer that peeked down then rimmed out at the horn.
"They held their composure real well in that fourth quarter," said Cookson. "They've got big hearts and they're playing hard. I can't question the effort."
Scott Central opened the game on fire, romping to a 19-6 lead, but the Cubs settled down and finished the quarter strong to pull to within seven at 25-18.
"We came out--I don't know if they were in our head or what, but they got a lot of easy buckets early, uncontested," said Bell City coach Brian Brandtner. "They looked like they were going to run away with it, then we regrouped a little bit, attacked better and got the shots we wanted."
It was all Bell City in the second quarter, outscoring the Braves 20-7, as they saw their first lead at 28-26, then took a 38-32 advantage into the locker room at the half.
"We got on top and let it go," Cookson said. "We just died on offense. Our offense just quit us."
Bogan looked unstoppable inside, scoring putbacks, snatching rebounds, hurling outlet passes. He had eight points and Niemcyzk added seven in the period.
Said Cookson, "It was almost a gimme for them when he (Bogan) got the ball down low."
Early in the third, Scott Central wiped out the Cubs' lead, capitalizing on three straight turnovers to tie the score at 42. But back roared the Cubs with Austin Segers' 3-pointer just prior to the buzzer sending them into the final quarter up 63-57. The Cubs went ahead by as many as eight points before the Braves began to whittle into the lead. With Gillespie running the show and scoring along with Thomas and Brownlee, the Braves cut the lead to three at 77-74 before Thomas' game-tying shot.
"D.D. did a good job of handling the ball and Richard finally came through and lit up a couple," said Cookson.
Brandtner, discouraged a bit by his team's lack of discipline in the late going, said, "We don't play well in space right now and we make bad decisions, especially late in a game with the lead. We took quick shots with no rebounders (underneath) when we were up six with a minute and a half to go. You're not going to beat Ronnie Cookson teams like that.
"The good news is it's only December. When we start figuring out who needs to get the ball and where and go from there, we're going to be tough to beat. Right now, we're just kind of helter-skelter."
Gillespie and Thomas led the Braves with 24 points apiece, while Caleb Johnson had 21 and Brownlee 14.
Bogan, who set a Hoopfest record for 2-point field goals made with 13, and Niemcyzk tallied 26 and 25 points, respectively. Melvin Johnson added 13. Niemcyzk and Melvin Johnson split six 3-pointers.
Scott Central shot a stellar 22-for-28 (79 percent) from the free-throw line, up considerably from the 19-for-39 (49 percent) performance in the first outing against Bell City. On Saturday, the Cubs went to the line 22 times, hitting nine (41 percent).
The two teams are likely to meet a couple more times before the season ends, almost certainly, the way the brackets are set, at the 62nd annual seMissourian Christmas Tournament which opens on Dec. 26., the next scheduled date for both squads.