(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
BERNIE -- Taking a 14-point lead into the half on Wednesday, the top-seeded Risco Tigers advanced to the Bernie Invitational Tournament semifinals with a 77-46 win over the eighth-seeded East Prairie Eagles.
"They played hard and aggressive," Risco head coach Brandon Blankenship said of his team. "We were a little too aggressive at times and got some silly fouls out there running into people and gambling going for steals.
"But that just all comes with working throughout this season and becoming more disciplined defensively."
After jumping out to an early 9-4 advantage, the Tigers found themselves trailing by one at the end of the first quarter when the Eagles went on a 13-7 rally. Their run was capped when Damion Tipler went in for a layup with 18 seconds left in the frame to put East Prairie up 17-16.
Coming out hot in the second quarter, however, Risco scored 14 of the first 15 points in the frame, taking the lead once and for all at 18-17 on a bucket from the paint by Hunter Knight with 7:05 left in the half.
With their newfound lead the Tigers charged ahead, getting eight-straight points from Austin White during the run, including back-to-back 3-pointers as they rolled to a 40-26 advantage at the break.
Coming out in the third, Risco was able to hold East Prairie to nine points for the second straight quarter as they pushed their lead into the twenties when Luke Bixler connected on a 3-point shot from the left corner to make it 50-28 with 4:20 left in the quarter.
Less than a minute into the fourth, Bixler hit the basket that gave the Tigers a 65-35 to allow Risco to run the turbo clock the rest of the way.
After such a close first quarter, Blankenship credits the Tigers' strong press and man-to-man play in forcing some needed turnovers that got their offense going from the second quarter on.
"I think pressure just wears on you," he said. "If you don't have a lot of good, solid guards then that's what we're going to try to bank on is trying to let that pressure get to people.
"It may not happen in the first quarter, it may take a (while) to wear on you."
With 30 points on the night, Bixler led the Tigers, connecting on four 3-pointers on the contest. White had 15 points on the game while Chris Pavy and Knight had 10 each.
For the Eagles, Dalton Golightly had a team-high 11 points with Devin Cook and Tipler contributing seven apiece. Shawn King, Phillip Latomondeer and Logan Staggs scored six points each.
"They're working extremely hard and I was extremely pleased with how they came out and executed," East Prairie head coach Casey Knight said of his squad. "I talked to them about trying to have even keel emotions and they obviously didn't.
"In the first quarter they're so hyped and so excited. Then obviously what comes up is going to come down so we fizzled out. But I thought we kept playing hard and kept executing."
Moving to the consolation side of the bracket, East Prairie will face Twin Rivers today at 4:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to the consolation finals.
With the win, Risco moves on to play the Bloomfield Wildcats who closed out Wednesday night's tournament action with a 58-44 win over the Twin River Royals.
They will play today at 6 p.m. with the winner moving on to the championship game on Friday.
EAST PRAIRIE (46) -- Shawn King 6, Dalton Golightly 11, Devin Cook 7, Phillip Latomondeer 6, Damion Tipler 7, Logan Staggs 6, Ryan Mathis 3. FG 18, FT. 9-19, F 13. (3-pointers: Golightly 1. Fouled out: Cook.)
RISCO (77) -- Luke Bixler 30, Chris Pavy 10, Austin White 15, Jordon Pavy 6, Jeremey Fowler 2, Hunter Knight 10, Brandon Bixler 4. FG 33, FT 2-6, F 22. (3-pointers: Bixler 4, White 3, Jordon Pavy 2. Fouled out: none.)
BERNIE -- Led by Brett Ruch's 30 points, the fourth-seeded Bloomfield Wildcats defeated the fifth-seeded Twin Rivers Royals 58-44 on Wednesday in the Bernie Invitational Tournament.
Trailing by one after the first quarter, the Wildcats outscored the Royals 15-8 in the second quarter thanks in large part to a 12 point effort from Ruch in the frame to go up 26-20 at the break.
With their six-point advantage already in hand, Bloomfield went on to outscore Twin Rivers 32-24 in the final quarter combined to seal the win.
Leading the Royals effort was Michael Snider, who had 25 points on the contest, including 14 in the first half.
TWIN RIVERS (44) -- Chris Morse 1, Michael Snider 25, Wes McCollum 6, Eric Ray 10, Cade Lowe 2. FG 17, FT 9-16, F 17. (3-pointers: Snider 1. Fouled out: Morse.)
BLOOMFIELD (58) -- Caleb Baker 4, Brett Ruch 30, Austin Williamson 1, Logan Cowart 12, Thomas Sanders 4, Adam Vandiver 2, Austin Cooper 5. FG 21, FT 14-19, F 18. (3-pointers: Baker 1, Ruch 1. Fouled out: none.)