As exciting as some of the dunks by Willard’s Chris Kendrix have been — and all seven this week in the Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament were — sometimes the stars are the guys who do the other things.
Like Branson’s Da’Quan Ervin.
In a battle of two of the area’s best juniors — Kendrix and Ervin — it was how they used their teammates that proved the difference. Both players got their points, 20 for Ervin and 19 for Kendrix, but it was Ervin’s seven assists and steadiness under pressure that won the day.
Branson’s 58-49 victory over Willard — with a spot in the Gold Division semifinals on the line — was one of the better games in the tournament so far between the two Central Ozark Conference heavyweights.
“Da’Quan is an excellent athlete, obviously, but he does a great job getting to the basket and dishing it off to other players,” Branson’s Drew Russell said. “He’s going to get his teammates involved and it’s not all about him. It’s about making the team better.”
Not to take anything away from Kendrix, who ignited the crowd several times the past two days. But Ervin made a star out of Russell, who scored 12 points largely as a benefactor of Ervin’s assists.
During the game’s pivotal stretch — after Willard had roared back from a large deficit to take a 37-35 lead — Ervin scored six points and had two assists during a 13-0 run.
Chandler Hall added 13 points for Branson (6-3), which plays Republic at 8:30 tonight at Hammons Student Center.
No. 1 Parkview 60, No. 8 Marshfield 43
Bill Brown knew he needed more scoring options than AJ Green and Erik Durham after the pair shared the load in the early season.
So, the Parkview coach had an ultimatum at practice.
“We didn’t let Erik and AJ score in practice, so the other kids had to shoot,” Brown said. “After a few days, it really helped.”
Junior Darris Perry and senior Nathan Reichert have responded, as Perry’s recent knee pain has lessened. Reichert, meanwhile, is becoming a major pain for opponents.
“We all have different roles on our team, and we try to play them to the best of our ability,” Perry said. “Me and Nate worked hard in the summer, and now we’re just finding our groove. Tonight we found our rhythm and we stuck with it.”
Reichert made it look easy with his efficient footwork and post moves. The senior did not miss a shot until the third quarter and finished 8-for-10 from the field, scoring 20 points.
The Vikings put away the Jays by allowing just three points and not missing a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Only six Vikings played, but Perry said fatigue will not be a factor in the four-day event.
“We’re ready for it,” he said. “We’ve put in all our hard work at practice and it pays off in the games.”
No. 2 Republic 56, No. 7 Hartville 40
Hartville would not go away, but Republic moved on.
The Eagles, which had three players score, were led by 23 points from center Seth Hensley.
“We knew going into it that they were a good team,” Republic coach Trevyor Fisher said. “He’s as good of a big guy as we’ll play all year.”
Fisher and leading scorer Cody Geiger, who had a team-high 17 points, seemed to remind themselves afterward that they were moving on..
“We got the win, and it’s a good win, and we’ll advance to the next one,” Geiger said. “But we need to play a lot better.”
Added Fisher: “I’m a little bit disappointed with our big guys’ defensive effort. But anytime you can get a win and move on to the next round of the Blue and Gold, it’s a positive.”