The opening tip exposed a malfunction in Grandview’s defense, a breakdown that allowed an opposing player to hang on the rim a few seconds into the game.
It was a self-inflicted mistake.
Weren’t many thereafter.
An inauspicious start gave way to an overwhelming run that lifted Grandview to a 66-45 victory against Logan-Rogersville in the Missouri Class 4 boys basketball semifinals on Friday.
Twelve months after capturing its first state title, Grandview will play for another. The Bulldogs (28-2) are set to face St. Mary’s (18-12) at 2:40 p.m. Saturday at JQH Arena in Springfield for the Class 4 championship.
“If you would’ve told me on March 17, 2018, that we’d be playing for a second consecutive state championship, I would’ve said, ‘I’ll take it,’” Grandview coach Reggie Morris said. “From that time until now, there’s a lot of things that have to transpire to get that opportunity.”
It requires a certain mental approach to the game as much as anything else, Morris said.
It was on full display in the first quarter Friday. Logan-Rogersville forward Cade Blevins threw down a dunk on the opening sequence, wide open underneath the hoop to receive a pass.
But it didn’t phase the defending champions. Grandview responded with the next 13 points. Its pressure defense controlled the tempo of the game and held Logan-Rogersville without a bucket for nearly seven minutes after the Blevins dunk. The Bulldogs forced 11 turnovers in the first half in front of a partisan crowd rooting for the opponent.
“Just going into the game, we knew they were going to bring their whole community out,” said Grandview senior DeAndre Sorrells, who leads the team in scoring this season and had eight points Friday. “So we had the mindset to keep playing our game and don’t worry about the crowd.
“We did what we had to do on the defensive end to get it started.”
On the other end, it was a steady dose of junior Reggie Morris Jr. in the first half and freshman Taj Manning in the second. Morris drilled four three-pointers in the opening half. He outscored the entire Logan-Rogersville roster in the half, 16-13. Grandview led 36-13 as the teams entered the halftime locker room.
Manning led all scorers with 23 points. Morris finished with 20.
“We needed somebody to get hot to push the offense together,” Morris Jr. said, adding, “It’s just being familiar with this court. Last year I kinda heated up, so I figured why not do it again.”
The Bulldogs expect some familiarity in their championship foe, even if they haven’t seen them before. Morris Sr. compared St. Mary’s to a collection of teams that Grandview has seen along its playoff route.
“We wanna cap this off by completing what we set out to do at the beginning of the season,” he said.