Midway through the fourth quarter of what should have been the most important game of his high school career, St. Pius X senior Mac Mason said he found his mind wandering a bit as he raced up and down the Mizzou Arena floor.
More specifically, he thought back over his previous three seasons with the Warriors and the summer league games they had played in this building. They fared pretty well in those.
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They fared pretty well in this one, too.
With a fourth-quarter run, St. Pius X came back and defeated Fatima 58-46 in the Missouri Class 3 semifinals Thursday afternoon. The Warriors will play College Prep at Madison at 11:30 a.m. Saturday for St. Pius X’s first boys’ state championship.
“Just being here before, seeing the surroundings, it definitely helped today,” said Mason, who scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. “It sort of calmed me down just thinking about it.”
That poise presented itself during a fourth-quarter run that the Warriors, 23-6, used to hand Fatima only its second loss of the season.
Fatima guard Thomas Zeilman nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key for a 42-40 lead a minute into the fourth quarter, but St. Pius X responded with an 17-4 run behind Mason, as well as seniors Brian Kaufmann (16 points) and Nick Morgan (10 points). St. Pius X forced 23 turnovers in the game and seven during the fourth-quarter spurt.
The run was as unlikely as it was well-timed. The Warriors played those final seven minutes without starting center Luke Hoban — the team’s lone true big man in the starting lineup, who fouled out.
In his place, a short bench lived up to a tall order. Grant Gavin scored four points and grabbed five rebounds in limited duty, and junior center Kyle Deters provided key minutes off the bench with Hoban in foul trouble in the first half. Deters scored seven points while playing only eight minutes in the first half, adding three rebounds a block.
“Kyle stepped up big in that first half,” Warriors coach Chad Wright said. “We’d been telling him all week that he’s going to be thrown into the fire and better be ready. Something (clicked) today.”
Class 2 boys: West Platte 57, Iberia 48
Thirty opening tips. Thirty final buzzers. And thirty victories for the West Platte boys basketball team.
This one, though, came at a high price.
Leading scorer Adam Roe suffered a right knee injury with 1:35 remaining in West Platte’s 57-48 victory against Iberia in the Class 2 semifinals. Roe said he fears he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
“I felt something — I don’t know what it was,” he said during a tearful news conference after the game.
Roe said he will be evaluated today, but it appears he won’t be uniform at 3:10 p.m. Saturday when the Blue Jays try for the first state championship in school history.
Roe, who averages 20 points per game, scored 12 of his team-high 20 points Thursday in the second half, helping West Platte overcome a two-point halftime deficit.
Class 3 girls: Cameron 68, St. James 53
Only 19 days ago, the Cameron girls basketball team was enduring its worst stretch of the season. Tthe Dragons had lost three games in a row and six of their last eight.
Cameron coach Matt Wenck attributed the losing streak to boredom. A postseason surge has turned that boredom into elation.
In its first trip to the state tournament in school history, Cameron upended St. James 68-53, moving into the Class 3 championship game at 1:20 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
Junior forward Ashli Lykins helped stake Cameron to an early double-digit lead with 29 points, including 22 in the opening half.
Cameron out-rebounded St. James 49-19 for the game.
Class 1 boys: Eminence 65, Drexel 64, OT
Eminence senior Jesse Lacey buried a three-pointer with 3.7 seconds remaining, handing Drexel a 65-64 overtime loss in the Class 1 semifinals.
Drexel led by five points with 30 seconds remaining in overtime, but Damon Craig and Lacey sandwiched three-pointers around a missed free throw from Drexel junior Javyn Johnston, erasing the deficit.
Drexel, 29-2, lost in the Class 1 state tournament for the second straight season.
, also allowed a seven-point lead to slip away over the final four minutes of regulation.
C.J. Bolton scored a game-high 20 points for the Bobcats, who were seeking the first state championship in Drexel’s school history.