Moments after its opening game in in the Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament, the Clever High School boys’ basketball players exited in stunned silence.
It was hard to fathom how the Bluejays had just blown a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead and lost 56-54 to unseeded and winless Reeds Spring in the Gold Division opener at JQH Arena. Clever (10-1) was the classic small-school team with a chance this week, full of shooters and spunk and high expectations. But now it’s on the verge of elimination.
“This is the Blue and Gold and anything can happen,” said Reeds Spring senior Austin Selby, who scored 28 points, including a pair of free throws with 4.4 seconds left — to give the Wolves (1-9) their first lead.
“Our record does not indicate what kind of team we are,” Selby said. “We’ve had some chances and couldn’t get over the hump.”
Clever led 49-39 with 5:08 left. But it was a confluence of fates that met at the free-throw line — negatively, for the Bluejays as it turned out. The team full of shooters missed seven consecutive free throws, while Selby converted eight straight and rallied Reeds Spring on a 10-2 run to finish the game.
Easton Flaugh added 10 points for the Wolves. Fisher scored 14 points and Jared Albright added 12 for Clever.
No. 1 Parkview 51, Skyline 22
Parkview’s Erik Durham poured in 28 points and post Nathan Reichert added 14 as the Vikings made light work out of Skyline (6-3).
Durham continues to show why he’s one of the Ozarks’ premier players, putting up an easy 28 for Parkview (8-0).
No. 4 Bolivar 56, Mansfield 46
The inside battle between Bolivar’s 6-foot-6 senior Austin Roberts and Mansfield’s 6-foot-5 sophomore Jacob Caruso was entertaining for a while, but the depth of the Liberators took control in the second half.
Bolivar (8-1) used a 15-5 run midway through the third quarter and took a commanding 42-29 lead.
Roberts finished with 16 points – eight in each half – but his 10 rebounds and five steals proved to be the difference.
No. 7 Hartville 70, Spokane 64
The Eagles managed to do what Clever couldn’t on Wednesday – make free throws to avoid the upset.
Hartville made 14 of 17 free throw attempts in the final quarter, including six straight from Shade Piper, to hold off the Owls.
Point guard Hunter Simmons led Hartville with 20 points and six assists and Piper scored 19.
No. 2 Republic 64, Aurora 25
The second-seeded Tigers drained six 3-pointers in the first half — three each by Jake Fletcher and reserve Canyon Smith — in blowing it open early.
Aurora went through a 7:58 scoring drought midway through the half. Fletcher finished with 17 points, Smith scored 14 and Marcus Miller had 12.
No. 6 Branson 76, Willow Springs 23
Thatch Unruh made three 3-pointers and Da’Quan Ervin added two more as Branson took a commanding 29-13 lead after one quarter.
Unruh finished with 20, Ervin added 17 and Chandler Hall scored 12 as 10 Pirates scored on the night.
No. 3 Willard 58, Greenwood 34
Chris Kendrix made his own highlight dunk reel in the final game of the night, slamming home six dunks in the first 20 minutes to help ignite a lethargic Willard squad.
A thunderous dunk by Kendrix just before halftime gave Willard a 25-18 halftime edge. Willard scored the first 16 points of the second half to pull away from host team.