They went on a stretch where they lost six of seven games. That stretch is in the distant rearview mirror for the Crane Pirates, who will play Saturday for the Class 2 boys basketball state championship.
Crane (20-10) used tight defense to defeat Harrisburg 59-51 Thursday at the Hearnes Center in Columbia in the playoff semifinals. Crane now owns a 10-game winning streak.
Senior Dalton Hayes thought back on what was a bleak December full of losses for Crane.
“At the time, we were kind of trying to figure out what we could do to start winning games and get ourselves back on track. I mean, we still had that set as a goal to make it up here (to Columbia) and play for the championship, but at that time we were trying to figure out—it’s still early on in the season, we’ve got to figure out what’s best for us to do and what our roles are,” Hayes said.
Crane last reached the semifinals in 2015 and finished in third place. Winning a semifinal this time is special for senior Deven White, who scored 10 points against Harrisburg.
“Being a senior, you kind of want a little bit more and it means a little bit more,” White said. “I’m not nearly as nervous as I was the first time, I’ve kind of settled down a little bit and I’m just thinking back on all the hard work we all put in to get here.”
Crane will meet Oran (22-8) for the Class 2 state championship Saturday at 6:20 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.
High school boys basketball Class 2 semifinal
Crane 59, Harrisburg 51
At Hearnes Center, Columbia
Crane—Colton Elder 14, Wyatt Vaught 12, Deven White 10, Tyler Campbell 9, Dalton Hayes 6, Braydon Cook 5, Brent Williams 3
Harrisburg—Brendan Gray 24, Cody Karl 14, Kolton James 5, Taylor Bottomley 4, Cade Combs 2, Conner McBride 2.
Walnut Grove boys hope for different result
For a second consecutive year, Walnut Grove will play in the Class 1 boys basketball state championship game. This time, the Tigers hope for a better outcome.
Logan Thomazin scored 32 points in Walnut Grove’s 69-63 win over Glasgow on Thursday at Mizzou Arena. Walnut Grove connected on 12-of-29 3-pointers, and Thomazin scored four of them.
The Tigers went 30-3 in the 2015-2016 season, but lost 69-49 to Stanberry in the state championship game. Walnut Grove (29-3) will hope for a better result in Saturday’s final against Advance (26-6), also to be played at Mizzou Arena.
High school boys basketball Class 1 semifinal
Walnut Grove 69, Glasgow 63
At Mizzou Arena, Columbia
Walnut Grove 21-19-19-10—69
Glasgow—Hayden Hackman 18, Adam Monning 16, Kennedy Davis 15, Kabyl McMillan 10, Gage McMillan 4
Walnut Grove—Logan Thomazin 32, Ryan Keith 19, Jaron Dishman 7, Dawson Meinders 7, Hunter Gilkey 4.
Walnut Grove girls offer town a two-for-one shot at state title
Junior Bayley Harman scored 21 points to lead Walnut Grove to cruise past Prairie Home 57-36 in Thursday’s Class 1 girls quarterfinal at Mizzou Arena.
Raylie Hejna and Myranda McVay also got to double figures in scoring with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Walnut Grove (28-4) will meet Mercer (30-1) in Saturday’s state championship game at 12:50 p.m.
Walnut Grove has reached the “final four” six consecutive times, including three consecutive state championships in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Tigers finished in third place in the 2016 Class 1 playoff tournament.
The Tigers returned every player from a team that took third place in 2016.
Walnut Grove has won seven consecutive district championships.
High school girls basketball Class 1 semifinal
Walnut Grove 57, Prairie Home 36
At Mizzou Arena, Columbia
Prairie Home 14-4-9-9—36
Walnut Grove 18-17-12-10—57
Prairie Home—Shianne Rhorer 16, Ashlyn Twenter 9, Rachel Distler 8, Kristen Peterson 3
Walnut Grove—Bayley Harman 21, Raylie Hejna 15, Myranda McVay 12, Grace McPhail 5, Grace Miller 4.
Skyline smothers No. 5-ranked Scotland County
With defense like that, who needs offense?
No. 1 Skyline pressed its way into the Class 2 girls basketball state championship game by stifling Scotland County 46-22 at the Hearnes Center. Skyline’s defense generated 26 turnovers, and all-state junior guard Kaylee DaMitz led the Tigers in scoring with 20 points.
“We’re all excited to be back here and then to get to the game that we’ve all been waiting for this whole season,” DaMitz said.
Skyline defenders had 15 steals.
“(Thursday) was probably the first night in a while that we pressured the basketball the way I thought we should pressure the basketball,” Skyline coach Kevin Cheek said. “If you can force 26 turnovers in this ballgame, then defensively you probably played about as well as you can play.”
Skyline’s defense also limited all-state guard Calesse Bair, who scores an average of 18 points per game, to two points.
This is Skyline’s fifth consecutive trip to the final four in Columbia. Skyline has won five state championships, most recently in 2008. Skyline won pairs of back-to-back state championships in 2003 and 2004, and 1996 and 1997. Three of the five championships featured Cheek as the head coach of the Tigers.
High school girls basketball Class 2 semifinal
Skyline 46, Scotland County 22
At Hearnes Center, Columbia
Scotland County 8-7-2-5—22
Skyline—Kaylee DaMitz 20, Autumn Garrett 8, Savannah Owen 7, McKinsey Mountain 6, Chloe Cole 3, Valen Logan 2
Scotland County—Abi Feeney 8, Chelsea Wood 8, Maddie Brassfield 3, Calesse Bair 2, Ashleigh Creek 1.
Mountain Grove falls in Class 3 semifinals
The Mountain Grove High School boys basketball team will appear in the Class 3 third place game for a second consecutive year.
The Panthers fell to Northwest Academy (St. Louis) 79-72 Thursday in the final semifinal of the night at Mizzou Arena. Mountain Grove (28-3) plays Friday at 2:30 p.m. against Hogan Prep for third place.
Late foul trouble doomed Mountain Grove against Northwest Academy, also known as Transportation and Law. Cade Coffman paced the Panthers with 25 points.