(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CLARKTON -- Looking for a return trip to the Tri-County Conference Tournament finals, the second-seeded Risco Tigers took their first step on Wednesday with a 93-47 opening round win over the seventh-seeded Southland Rebels.
Led by Luke Bixler's game-high 24-points, the Tigers jumped out a 23-point halftime lead before running away with a 32-point third quarter that led to a turbo-clock fourth.
"I wanted our defense to perform little bit better," Risco coach Brandon Blankenship said. "That's something that we talked about at halftime. We didn't feel like we defended very well in the first half.
"We gave up easy buckets and their shots weren't very contested. We did a better job in the second half defensively."
Whatever the Tigers lacked on offense coming out of the gate, they more than made up for on offense. With 10 points from Bixler and eight from Jordon Pavy, Risco outscored the Rebels 28-15 in the first eight minutes of play.
Austin White finished the second quarter with nine-points as the Tigers once again outscored Southland to take a 53-30 lead into the break.
Coming out to start the second half, the Tigers proceeded to hit a pair of 3-pointers as part of a 10-0 quarter-opening run.
Forced to call a timeout just 1:51 into the half, the Rebels responded with a quick basket from the paint, but were held silent for the next three minutes as Risco reeled off 13-straight points.
A steal by Bixler, followed by an open layup capped the rally that allowed the Tigers to pull away 76-32 with 3:09 left in the frame.
By the time the two teams entered the fourth, Risco had amassed a 48-point lead, at 85-37, that ensured a turbo-clock fourth.
"We started off kind of slow with our defense," Bixler said. "But we picked it up in the second half and started looking for the open man on offense.
"Overall things got better in the second half."
Behind Bixler's 24 points, the Tigers had another four players post double-digit scoring totals on the night. Hitting four of the team's eight 3-pointers, Jeremey Fowler had 16 points while Jordon Pavy and Austin White had 15 each.
Chris Pavy added another 10 points to Risco's cause.
"We have multiple guys that can score that we feel like can put the ball in the hole," Blankenship said. "It's their job, if they have an open look, to take it. We're not looking for any one person to do it for us. We're looking for the team to do it."
For the Rebels, Kelton Wilson had 16 points, followed by Kizch Washington with 14.
With their win, Risco heads to the semifinals where they will play North Pemiscot tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Clarkton High School. North Pemiscot defeated Campbell 76-42.
In other Tri-County Conference Tournament varsity action, fourth-seeded Gideon defeated fifth-seeded Clarkton 65-58 and top-seeded Holcomb defeated ninth-seeded Cooter 79-29.
RISCO (93) -- Luke Bixler 24, Chris Pavy 10, Jordon Pavy 15, Austin White 15, Jeremey Fowler 16, Matt Cummins 4, Brandon Bixler 9. FG 36, FT 13-21, F 16. (3-pointers: Luke Bixler 2, Jordon Pavy 2, Fowler 4. Fouled out: none.)
SOUTHLAND (47) -- Blake Jameson 3, Kizch Washington 14, Kelton Wilson 16, Austin Vaughn 7, Aaron Smith 6, Tyler Ellington 1. FG 19, FT 6-10, F 16. (3-pointers: Jameson Washington 1, Wilson 1. Fouled out: David Evans.)