After falling to North Pemiscot in the finals each of the past two seasons, the Tigers entered the title game against Holcomb with a chance to earn the schools' first conference title since 1999 while avenging a 72-67 loss to the Hornets in late January.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, Holcomb had other plans as the Hornet's claimed their first conference tournament title since 1991 with a 76-64 win.
"The last time they beat us we settled for a lot of three's," Risco coach Brandon Blankenship said. "So part of the game plan was that we didn't just want to pass around the perimeter and settle for those three's.
"We wanted to try to attack more and try to cut more to the basket. We didn't get some of those shots to fall, but a lot of that was due to Holcomb's defense."
The contest was a rubber match for the two schools as the Tigers (20-3) opened the season with a 74-64 win over Holcomb (20-4) to claim the Bernie Invitational championship. The Hornets evened the score against the then top-ranked team in Class 1 on January 20.
Holding a four-point advantage coming out of the first half, the Hornets got six points from their big man, Jamie Massey, in the third quarter as they separated from Risco for good.
Austin White opened the frame with a 3-pointer to close the Tigers back to within a point of Holcomb. On their next trip down the court, however, the Hornets got a bucket in the paint from Michael Glover that kickstarted an 8-0 run that forced Risco to burn a timeout with five minutes left in the quarter.
Though a quick basket from White coming lout of the break slowed the Hornets march, Holcomb went on to outscore the Tigers 24-11 in the quarter to head into the final frame up 54-37.
"We showed some resiliency," Holcomb coach Seth McBroom said. "Both teams were tired. When you have two teams that play that hard three nights in a row you can tell fatigue is setting in a little bit with both teams.
"You just have to learn from your losses and we tried to make some adjustments. We realized how we have to play."
Jeremey Fowler opened the final eight minutes of play with a shot from the top of the arc that closed the Tigers back to within 12 points, but a 6-2 run over a minute span soon after allowed Holcomb to push back out by 16 with 5:02 to play.
A putback by Chris Pavy had Risco within 13 with 3:37 remaining before the Hornets spent the final three minutes trying to stall. With Holcomb hitting 10 of 15 from the charity stripe in that timespan, along with some missed shots from the Tigers, Risco was never able to cut their deficit back into the single-digits
"Our kids don't quit," Blankenship said. "They're going to come back and they don't care what the scoreboard says, they're going to keep playing. I was really proud in the fourth quarter that, even though we didn't make up a lot of point difference, we got two or three five-second calls on out of bounds plays.
"We really turned it up. Holcomb was just able to get some buckets there and hit some free throws when they needed to."
Leading Risco's effort, Pavy had a game-high 28 points on the contest. He scored all 11 of the Tiger's first quarter points while adding another 14 to the cause in the fourth.
Fowler had 11 points for the Tigers with White finishing with 10.
Standing a good seven inches over the tallest Risco player at 6-7, Massey controlled the paint through most the contest while collecting a team-high 25 points for the Hornets. With his team trying to close the game out, Massey had eight points in the final frame.
"He's been getting a lot on the offensive glass, picking up some trash," McBroom said of Massey. "He's a great player.
"I guess against a team like Risco our plan is to get it in there to him a lot. That's no secret, but sometimes against Risco it's not easy because their ball pressure is so good."
With a squad built for speed, not size, Blankenship admitted it can be tough when trying to size up with the physical play of Massey.
"It's tough," he said. "We try to get them to block out. You can push (Massey) back and be in front of him, but he doesn't have to leave the floor to get the rebound over us."
Behind Massey's 25 points, Ryan Reeves and Patrick Skelton contributed 15 and 13 points respectively for the Hornets.
HOLCOMB (76) -- Patrick Skelton 13, Aaron Reeves 8, David McDaniel 2, Ryan Reeves 15, James Vance 9, Jamie Massey 25, Michael Glover 4. FG 30, FT 14-21, F 20. (3-pointers: Aaron Reeves 1, Ryan Reeves 1. Fouled out: none.)
RISCO (64) -- Luke Bixler 5, Chris Pavy 28, Austin White 10, Jordon Pavy 8, Jeremey Fowler 11, Brandon Bixler 2. FG 23, FT 13-26, F 21. (3-pointers: Luke Bixler 1, White 1, Jordon Pavy 1, Fowler 2. Fouled out: Hunter Knight.)