They put their fans through a late night stress test, but the game ended in Gold for Ozark.
The Tigers held on to defeat Willard 54-46 in the 71st Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament at JQH Arena on Thursday night. The win marks Ozark’s 11th Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament championship.
Junior Quinn Nelson scored 17 points for Ozark (8-3) to cap a leading performance in four games over four days.
“Actually having it feels amazing, and we got the trophy, that’s what we wanted,” Nelson said. “We’re pretty confident. We knew coming into this we could win it, we just had to make sure executed our game plan. Luckily we did and we put the ball in the right guys’ hands at the right time and pulled it out.
Parker Hanks and Carter Burgess also reached double-digit scoring for Ozark with Hanks scoring 13 points and Burgess chipping in 10.
Ozark had a No. 4 overall seed in the Gold Division bracket, but played with confidence throughout four days of basketball.
“It’s pretty good for a No. 4 seed,” Ozark coach Mark Schweitzer deadpanned. “We didn’t think we were a No. 4 seed, but we were, and we just proved to everyone that we’re not.”
Willard (7-4) tried its best to slow Ozark with full court pressure defense and deliberate play on offense. Kenny Chambers led Willard in scoring with 11 points, and Sam Bird was close behind with nine points.
Ozark 54, Willard 46
Willard—Kenny Chambers 11, Sam Bird 9, Houston Johnson 8, Stone Jackson 7, Kobe Holloman 6, Elijah Davis 2, Daniel Abreu 2, Carter Anderson 1
Ozark—Quinn Nelson 17, Parker Hanks 13, Carter Burgess 10, Payton Nichols 7, Brian Wacha 3, Noah Suiter 3, Garret Reinke 3.
Nixa’s Osborne becomes Blue and Gold’s winningest coach
Nixa defeated Rogersville 55-46 to win third place in the Gold Division bracket. It was a disappointing finish for the Eagles following a 59-47 loss to Ozark in the semifinals.
The third place win was a milestone maker. With 63 overall games won in the Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament, Nixa coach Jay Osborne takes over as the tournament’s career leader in coaching victories.
The Eagles have finished in the top four of their bracket every year since 2007. Osborne holds an all-time coaching record of 63-21 in the tournament.
“We’ve had a really good run here for eight years going into this year,” Osborne said. “When you do that, you can accumulate a lot of wins. The 20-something losses are still painful and sting. I can recall every one of them.”
Osborne, in his 25th year at Nixa, credits his longevity to his ability to achieve such a milestone in what has become a holiday tradition in southwest Missouri.
“All it really means is that I’ve stayed in coaching and been able to come to the Blue and Gold every year,” Osborne said. “It’s an honor and it’s something that I’m proud of, but I’m really more proud about the kids I’ve coached.”
Osborne passed Steve Hunter, who holds an all-time record of 62-18 with Hartville, West Plains and Ozark. Hunter was on the court to shake hands with Osborne and celebrate the milestone at the end of Nixa’s win over Rogersville. Osborne said Hunter’s Ozark teams were always difficult to prepare to play.
“I told (Hunter) the only reason that he still doesn’t hold it is that I’ve coached two more years in this thing than he has. He decided to coach some junior college basketball,” Osborne said. “We’ve had a lot of battles over the years, some heated battles over the years, but you know, he’s an outstanding coach and I’ve got a lot of respect for him and how he prepares his players.”
Hunter now coaches the men’s basketball team at North Arkansas College.