The disappointment the Nixa Eagles felt in losing to Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco Saturday night may have said more about the team’s weekend than the scoreboard did.
The Eagles played the nation’s No. 22-ranked team even into the third quarter before St. John Bosco pulled away for a 73-63 win in the third place game of the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions at JQH Arena.
It wrapped up a 1-2 weekend for Nixa (13-3), which beat Mount Washington (Ky.) Bullitt East in Thursday’s opening round before falling to No. 1-ranked Montverde (Fla.) Friday.
“We still have the opportunity to have a really good season, and a really good posteason, and a chance to get to the Final Four,” Nixa coach Jay Osborne said. “When we get there, playing these teams will help us.”
The Eagles once again played without senior Jalen Norman, who was injured Friday night against Bullitt East.
Norman found out Saturday night that he tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. In a text message to the News-Leader, Norman said he “would be out a lot longer than the expected four weeks.”
Depending on his recovery time, Norman could likely be out for the rest of the season. District play starts Feb. 25, five weeks from Monday.
Senior Austin Ruder wrapped up a spot on the T of C all-tournament team with a 22-point, four-assist performance, and younger brother Jacob finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
But it was a quiet Nixa lockerroom after the game.
“We expected to win the game,” Osborne said. “They’re athletic and they were real explosive. Our transition defense was really poor. It’s just hard to match that quickness in practice.”
St. John Bosco (14-4) missed just seven shots from inside the 3-point line, often getting layups and dunks in transition. Texas-El Paso recruit Isaac Hamilton scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting, and Tyler Dorsey finished with 22 points, nine assists and six rebounds.
The Braves shot 63 percent from the floor overall.
Still Nixa trailed by three after one quarter, and rallied to briefly take a 31-30 second quarter lead on the strength of a 14-5 run.
But Bosco scored seven straight to start the third quarter and open a 10-point lead, and the lead grew to 15 in the fourth.
“We thought we had a chance tonight,” Austin Ruder said. “We kind of got careless with the ball in the second half, and they got a lot of transition points and a lot of turnaround jumpers. A lot of those were 50-50 shots that just happened to go down tonight.”
Osborne said playing without the senior standout against top competition did his team some good.
“We always tell the kids, you’re one injury away, you’re one flu bug away from going in,” Osborne said. “Playing these last two games without him really made our kids grow up.”