(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
BERNIE -- In the finals for the first time in over three decades, the Risco Tigers survived an early scare from the Holcomb Hornets on Friday to claim the 48th annual Bernie Invitational Tournament championship with a 74-64 win.
"Winning this tournament is big," Risco head coach Brandon Blankenship said. "We wanted to win this tournament and that was one of the goals the guys talked about (before the season).
"It's the first time since 1974 that Risco has won it and the first time we've been in the championship game since 1974 as well, so it's big for the community too."
After opening up the game on an 11-6 run, the Tigers quickly saw their shooting go cold in the final five minutes of the first frame.
Starting with a pair of free throws from Michael Glover, the Hornets scored 16-straight to end the first quarter before opening up the second frame with an early bucket to go up 24-11.
Scoring six of the next seven points, however, Risco quickly began to dig out of its hole and tie the game with 19 seconds left in the half off a 3-pointer from Austin White near the top of the arc.
With Holcomb looking for one last shot, Risco's Jordon Pavy stole the ball before passing to Chris Pavy, who hit a jumper with just two seconds left to give the Tigers a 31-29 advantage going into the half.
"We came out on a slow start," Risco's Luke Bixler said. "But as soon as we pressed the tempo and got it to where we needed to we did pretty well.
"We worked on our defense and got them to force turnovers to play our game."
Though the Hornets regained the lead with five points from Ryan Reeves coming out of the break, a 10-2 run by the Tigers with 4:55 left in the quarter gave Risco the lead for good.
Though Risco went up by as many as 11 points late in the third, a resilient Hornets squad fought back to within three points when Reeves connected from behind the arc to make it 60-57 with 3:44 to play.
Unfortunately for Holcomb, cold shooting and turnovers plagued the Hornets in the final three minutes as Risco went on a 14-7 run to seal the win.
"We had our fastest lineup in those last three minutes," Blankenship said. "I called that timeout with three or four minutes to go and I told them let's really try to amp it up, push the tempo and force turnovers. It worked out for us."
Leading the Tigers in scoring for the second-straight night, Chris Pavy had 22 points on the contest, barely edging out Bixler, who had 21 points for the team lead.
Jeremey Fowler had 11 points with White and Matt Cumins contributing nine and seven points respectively.
For the Hornets, Jamie Massey had a game-high 24 points, including 10 of Holcomb's first 12 points in the game.
After such a dominant start for the 6-7 junior, who towers seven inches over the tallest Risco player, Blankenship said the Tigers were able to control the damage by speeding things up.
"We knew he was going to get his just because we don't have the personnel to slow him down too much or stop him," Blankenship said. "Our defense for him was the pace of the game, try to speed it up and not let him be as much of a factor if we get the up and down game.
"At times we were able to do that we were effective like when we made that run in the second quarter."
Others contributing to the Hornets cause included Aaron Reeves with 11 points and Ryan Reeves with eight.
On the loss, Hornet coach Seth McBroom said, "We let them control the pace instead of us controlling the pace and ultimately that's what done us in.
"The first quarter we were crisp and playing with confidence. Later on when they made their run and got it close we got a little tighter against their press and had way too many turnovers for our team."
HOLCOMB (64) -- Tyler Lewis 2, Aaron Reeves 11, Daniel McDaniel 3, Cameron Clark 3, Ryan Reeves 8, James Vance 6, Jamie Massey 24, Michael Glover 7. FG 24, FT 10-20, F 20. (3-pointers: Aaron Reeves 3, McDaniel 1, Ryan Reeves 2. Fouled out: none.)
RISCO (74) -- Luke Bixler 21, Chris Pavy 22, Austin White 9, Jordon Pavy 2, Jeremey Fowler 11, Matt Cumins 7, Hunter Knight 2. FG 26, FT 11-16, F 16. (3-pointers: Bixler 2, Chris Pavy 3, White 2, Fowler 3, Cumins 1. Fouled out: Knight.)
BERNIE -- Playing in the consolation bracket finals of the Bernie Invitational Tournament on Friday, the East Prairie Eagles rallied late before falling 63-57 to the Puxico Indians.
"I'm proud of their effort for playing hard," East Prairie coach Casey Knight said. "I thought we were a little nervous.
"We came in to this tournament with the goal to gaining respect and we're an eighth-seed playing for fifth-place. We achieved our goal and finished above our seed, but we're playing for a plague and they were a little nervous about that."
Trailing by 11 points entering the half, the Eagles fought back to within two points in the closing minutes of the third quarter.
Unfortunately for East Prairie, Puxico held off any chance of a late rally in the fourth by outscoring the Eagles 16-15.
Leading the way for East Prairie, Shawn King had 15 points while Devin Cook 14 14, including 12 in the third quarter. Damion Tipler also contributed 13 points.
EAST PRAIRIE (57) -- Shawn King 15, Devin Cook 14, Phillip Latomondeer 2, Mack Marcum 2, Damion Tipler 13, Logan Staggs 9, Ryan Mathis 2. FG 22, FT 9-16, 20. (3-pointers: King 2, Cook 2. Fouled out: Cook.)
PUXICO (63) -- Jacob Plunkett 17, Garrett Payne 6, Matt Camden 1, Nathan Martin 17, Josh Harp 15, Tim Hancock 7. FG 12, FT 14-26, F 21. (3-pointers: Plunkett 4, Martin 1. Fouled out: none.)