As he walked off the Mizzou Arena floor — his high school career effectively finished — St. Pius X senior and leading scorer Brian Kaufmann stayed expressionless.
The crowd chanted his name. His coach, Chad Wright, gave him a quick hug. Kaufmann hardly flinched.
Nevertheless, it was a deserving farewell appreciation for one of the Warriors’ four senior starters. The remaining three — Mac Mason, Nick Morgan and Luke Hoban — enjoyed their recognition a few minutes later. It just wasn’t the swan song any of them wanted.
Trying to capture the first state championship in school history, St. Pius X instead fell to College Prep at Madison, 67-52, in the Class 3 state championship game Saturday at Mizzou Arena. The Warriors were playing in the state title game for the first time since 1972.
“We came in wanting to win, thinking we could win,” said Kaufmann, who fouled out in the fourth quarter. “I just don’t think (the shots) were going in tonight.”
They certainly weren’t falling at the same rate they did in the Warriors’ playoff run to reach this point. In winning eight straight games, St. Pius X built its identity on hard-nosed drives to the basket coupled with some timely three-point shooting.
Neither was reliable Saturday. The Warriors, 23-7, made only three of 15 three-pointers and shot 36.7 percent for the game against a swarming College Prep defense. Still, they trailed by only five at halftime while dictating a slower tempo.
College Prep, 31-2, changed that tempo after the break. In an effort to speed the game up, the Bears opened the third quarter with a full-court trapping press. In turn, they needed only 48 seconds to stretch a five-point lead to 11.
St. Pius X committed 21 turnovers against the pressure from a decidedly faster and more athletic opponent.
Morgan led the Warriors with 15 points. Five players scored in double figures for College Prep.
“I thought we could’ve handled it a lot better,” Mason said. “They’re real athletic and long, and they really go after every pass. But I think we could’ve handled it better, and it would’ve been a much closer game for sure.”
Class 2:Salisbury 70, West Platte 46
Undefeated no more.
Salisbury handed West Platte its first loss of the season Saturday with a 70-46 whipping in the Class 2 state championship game.
West Platte played without its leading scorer, Adam Roe, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a semifinal win Thursday night.
Without Roe, West Platte turned its focus to big man Bryce Cashman, who responded by scoring 10 of the team’s first 13 points. The Blue Jays trailed only 17-13 at that point, but Salisbury put together a 37-12 run over the middle two quarters to turn the game into a blowout.
Cashman battled foul trouble throughout the game and eventually fouled out in the fourth quarter, but he still finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Austin Wyatt scored 21 points, with 15 coming on five three-pointers in the first half, and led Salisbury, 30-1.
West Platte finished 29-1.
Class 3: Lutheran (St. Peters) 80, Cameron girls 68
One-by-one, members of the Cameron girls basketball team were handed their Class 3 second-place medals after an 80-68 loss to Lutheran (St. Peters) in the championship game Saturday.
The ceremony typically provides one of the most disappointing moments of every postgame at Mizzou Arena.
Instead, Cameron leading scorer Ashli Lykins held the second-place team trophy high in the air, proudly showing it to the crowd. Lykins had a game-high 26 points Saturday.
“I didn’t really think we had anything to be disappointed about,” Lykins said. “We didn’t win, but I thought we fought today. I just wanted to hold the trophy highly as we walked out of there.”
Of course, that positive attitude is a little easier considering this: Cameron will return every starter from this season’s squad, which advanced farther than any previous team in school history.
In this one, though, the Dragons couldn’t keep Lutheran off the free-throw line. Lutheran made 32 of 44 attempts — the second most made free-throw makes in Missouri Class 3 state history.
Melia Richardson added 24 points for Cameron, which finished 20-12.