No. 1 seed Malden has rolled through the tournament, winning by an average margin of 37 points. In the semifinals on Thursday night, Malden easily handled the Puxico Indians 71-46 to advance to the finals.
No. 2 seed Doniphan has also rolled through the first three rounds of the tourney with an average margin of victory of 29 points. The Dons played their closest game of the tournament on Friday night, but outlasted the South Pemiscot Bulldogs, 61-45.
Malden and Doniphan will meet for first place tonight at 8:30 p.m. Puxico and South Pemiscot will duel for third place at 7 p.m.
Dexter and Portageville will matchup for the fifth place game at 5:30 p.m. The Bearcats defeated Van Buren 73-69 and Portageville sprinted past Bernie 63-56 to advance.
The Portageville Bulldogs rallied late and escaped with a 63-56 win over the Bernie Mules.
The key to victory for Portageville late in the contest was defense and offensive rebounding. The Bulldogs had 15 steals as a team and a rebounding advantage of 41-23, including 25-5 on the offensive boards.
Portageville (7-1) trailed 45-40 heading into the fourth quarter, when the Bulldogs rallied to outscore the Mules 23-11 in the quarter.
Portageville's Trey Mosby, Marcus Greene and Kony Ealy each had seven points in the fourth to lead the charge for the Bulldogs. Portageville took their first lead of the game since the first quarter, 53-52, on a Mosby jumper.
With a minute to play in the contest and the Mules up one point with possession of the ball, Greene got a steal and an uncontested lay-up to put the Bulldogs up 55-54.
In the last minute of the game, Portageville recorded four offensive rebounds -- three by Ealy. With 50 seconds left, Greene hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to put the Bulldogs up 56-54.
Greene missed the second free throw, but Ealy corralled the miss and was fouled. Ealy hit one foul shot to put Portageville up 57-54 with 45 seconds to play.
After Bernie cut the lead to one, 57-56 with 20 seconds to play in the contest, Greene was fouled and sent to the line. Once again Ealy grabbed the miss and got the putback to put the Bulldogs up 59-56.
Bernie missed some foul shots to cut into the three-point lead and Portageville secured the rebound and salted the game away with two late free throws. The Bulldogs added a bucket at the buzzer to reach the final margin.
"We rebounded well tonight," said Portageville head coach Jim Bidewell, "but maybe we did because our guys knew we couldn't hit free throws. We have got to work on our free throws. You have to have one of the two, either hit your free throws or be a good rebounding team. Tonight, we rebounded."
Bernie head coach Brad Botsch thought his team was outworked on the boards.
"The story of the game was that we simply got outrebounded in the second half," said Botsch. "We missed a lot of rebounding opportunities and got stagnant on the offensive end. Tip your cap to Portageville, they played their best game of the tournament and played better tonight than we did."
Bidewell believes his team came out and played a solid game.
"For whatever reason," said Bidewell, "the kids decided to come out and play in the second half. I guess the guys got tired of me chewing on them and they wanted to do something about it. We dug down deep and our pride rose to the top. The boys fought hard for this win tonight."
Early on in the game, it looked like Bernie would run away with the game. The Mules outscored Portageville 20-8 in the second quarter to take a 30-19 lead into halftime.
Led by 6-foot-4 forwards Silas Dill and Marcus Massey, Bernie controlled the play in the paint. Dill ended the first half with 14 points, while Massey ended with seven points.
"I thought the guys came out and showed that we can execute on the offensive end against a solid defensive team," said Botsch. "However, we have not been consistent on the perimeter hitting our outside shots. Our inability to hit an outside jumper when it counted, cost us tonight."
Portageville scraped back into the game in the third quarter. The Bulldogs went on a 11-2 run in the third to cut the Mules lead to 39-38 with 1:30 to play in the quarter.
Mosby led the Bulldogs with 23 points, 10 steals and had four rebounds (three offensive). Greene finished with 13 points, all in the second half, and five rebounds.
"Trey is the nucleus of our team," said Bidewell. "He sets the example on the floor by playing hard on every play. Our guys feed off his energy and desire to win games."
Ealy started for the first time as a freshman for Portageville and ended with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds (six offensive). Point guard Mikey Johnson had a solid game for the Bulldogs with four points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Dill led Bernie (6-4) with 20 points and nine rebounds. Massey ended his night with 13 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Zach Curry came off the bench for the Mules and scored 10 points.
Bidewell hopes this win will get his young team headed in the right direction.
"I don't know that this is a turning point game," said Bidewell. "We have only one loss coming into tonight, but it seems like we are struggling. We are out of shape and maybe that is what is affecting us early. Hopefully, our conditioning will improve and the guys will get more comfortable playing with each other."
The Richland Rebels have become the feel good story of the tournament after a 63-48 win over the East Prairie Eagles.
Richland garnered the No. 16 and last seed to start the tournament. After losing to top seed Malden by 58 points, things looked bleak for the Rebels.
The Rebels responded by defeating No. 8 Hayti and with the win over No. 5 seed East Prairie, have made the consolation finals.
"The kids are real excited about where we are at right now," said Richland head coach Casey Knight. "We felt that we were better than a 16 seed. It feels good to get this far and earn some respect for the program. The kids knew we were better than the last seed and they have responded by playing some good basketball."
East Prairie came into the game hamstrung after forward Tony Jones was declared ineligible to play due to receiving a technical foul in the previous game.
The loss of 6-2 Jones was felt by the Eagles in the rebounding category. The Rebels outrebounded East Prairie in the contest 36-22, despite committing 18 turnovers in the game.
"We missed some chances on some defensive rebounds," said East Prairie head coach Matt Schonhoff. "We had our chances in the game but couldn't hit some layups and we missed some free throws. I was pleased with the guys' effort knowing that Tony wouldn't play coming in. The guys played as hard as possible and battled."
Richland led 17-12 after one quarter, but the Eagles responded in the second quarter with a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to 19-18. Senior guard Randy Woods led East Prairie in the first half with 14 points.
Rebel senior Cameron Whittaker responded with 14 points of his own in the half to lead Richland to the 32-28 advantage at halftime.
Richland extended the lead to 44-34 with 1:30 to play in the third quarter and seemed to have al the momentum. That all changed when Whittaker hit the floor hard on his injured shoulder with a minute to play in the quarter.
The fall reinjured the shoulder that kept Whittaker out of the first few games of the year. Although Whittaker played the rest of the game noticeably favoring his injured shoulder, his status for the consolation final is in doubt after it was learned that his shoulder is dislocated for a second time this season.
The Eagles scored six straight points after the injury, until the return of Whittaker, and trailed 44-40 with 6:50 to play in the fourth quarter.
Richland (4-4) responded with a 9-2 run led by freshman Drew Thornton. With 12 points in the quarter, Thornton put the Rebels on his young back and led Richland to a big win.
"For only being a freshman," said Knight, "Drew played like a man today. He is going to make freshman mistakes and have his ups and downs, but when he decides to play, he can play with anybody."
Schonhoff was also impressed with Richland's freshman.
"I don't recall his name," said Schonhoff, "but No. 22 (Thornton) was a beast. We had problems containing him inside."
Whittaker led the Rebels with 20 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists. Thornton's monster game ended with 18 points, 16 rebounds (eight offensive) and had four steals.
East Prairie (6-4) was led in scoring by Woods with 16 points. Paris Tipler scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, with seven rebounds and four assists.
The Dexter Bearcats outscored Van Buren 45-35 in the second half and overcame a halftime deficit to advance to the fifth place title game.
After trailing 34-28 to the Bulldogs at the half, Dexter recovered by outscoring Van Buren 22-15 in the fourth quarter to secure the 73-69 win.
The Bearcats forced 18 turnovers and outrebounded the Bulldogs 31-23 (20-8 offensive).
Kevin Hart led Dexter (3-5) with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Derrick Chamberlain had 19 points, five rebounds (four offensive) and five steals. Logan Swindle finished with 10 points for the Bearcats.
Tyler Freeze led Van Buren off the bench with 14 points. Brandon Tucker had 12 points and led the team with eight rebounds and six steals. Jackson Heiberg also contributed off the bench for the Bulldogs with 10 points and five rebounds.