Mark Bernsen has made the rounds during his coaching career, but he added a first on Wednesday morning at JQH Arena.
The Mountain Grove High School head coach — and former head coach at then-Southwest Missouri State — made his first appearance as a participant in the Greenwood Blue and Gold Tournament.
“I was here six years (as a coach), and before and after that, I’ve been here recruiting and scouting,” Bernsen said. “I have a tremendous respect for the Blue and Gold Tournament.”
However, it was a rude homecoming for the former Bears mentor — he served as head coach from 1992-1995 after being an assistant to Charlie Spoonhour — as eighth-seeded Marshfield ripped Mountain Grove, 72-32, in the opening round.
Blayne Armstrong scored a game-high 27 points, hitting six 3-pointers as Marshfield set a team tournament record with 15 3-pointers.
The early focus, even off the court, was on Bernsen.
Bernsen has had stops at Southeast Missouri State, New Mexico State, Idaho State, Missouri-St. Louis, Moberly Community College, Jefferson Community College and McCluer North High School before taking over at Mountain Grove this fall. Numerous well-wishers made a point to stop by and say hello to the coach before and after the game.
“When you are having kids come into a place like this for the first time, it’s real exciting for them and it’s just another chance to play on a different stage,” Bernsen said. “I know they are excited about it, but it doesn’t do much for me. I’ve been here before, so coming back here didn’t mean a whole lot but I know it meant a lot to them.”
The Panthers had their hands full with the Blue Jays as Marshfield drained a tournament-record 15 3-pointers, eclipsing Branson’s mark of 14 set last year. The teams combined for 20 3-pointers, a record, too. Mountain Grove struggled its way to 25 turnovers.
“They were shooting it and they are a good shooting club,” Bernsen said of Marshfield. “We didn’t get out on the shooters like we should have and they sure knocked them down.
“There’s a certain tempo, certain style of play that we are successful at once we get in that mode, we are capable of being a little successful. If we can’t get there, we’re not very good.”
Marshfield (6-3) put the Panthers in an early 22-7 hole as Armstrong, a 6-foot-4 junior, scored 12 points in the first quarter.
“Our last few nights have been pretty good,” Armstrong said. “That’s something we are going to live and die by. We are very blessed to have six, seven, eight guys that can come off the bench and be scoring threats.
Bradey Welsh added 17 points and Brett Diehl – coming off the bench following an injury — made four 3-pointers and finished with 12 points.
“We’ve hit 29 (3-pointers) the last two games and Blayne’s shooting right at 50 percent from 3-point range,” Marshfield coach J.C. Carter said. “Our post game hasn’t necessarily been there, but lots of guys have stepped up and been hitting.
“I thought they did a good job forcing turnovers today.”
Mountain Grove’s Austin Massey led the Panthers with 12 points on four 3-pointers as the teams also broke the tournament record by combining for 20 3-pointers.
Marshfield will play top-seeded Parkview, a 51-22 winner over Skyline, at 5 p.m. today at JQH Arena.