When the bus arrived late Saturday morning to carry the Central Eagles boys’ team to the 35th annual Holiday Classic Basketball Tournament at William Jewell, center Robert Cornelius was one unhappy camper.
“I was thinking we were going to have to forfeit,” Cornelius said.
Central got to the Mabee Center 18 minutes before its scheduled tip-off against the Kearney Bulldogs and the game began five minutes late. What mattered, though, was how Central had the time of their lives when it counted the most. Central rallied from a nine-point third quarter deficit and defeated Kearney 61-50 in a consolation bracket game in the Patterson Division.
The triumph proved to be quite the positive message for Blue Eagles’ coach Randy Farris, whose squad got crushed the day before by Blue Springs 73-42.
“To come back from the Blue Springs game, have a late bus, having to get dressed at our place instead of when we got there, the whole deal, showed me our kids are real resilient,” Farris said. “This should bode well for us down the road.”
How about a best-of-three between these two? This was the second time already this season Central, 5-4, and Kearney, 4-5, went to overtime (the Bulldogs prevailed 76-74 on Dec. 9 in the Liberty North tournament).
Overtime didn’t appear to be a possibility this time when Kearney went up 35-26 on two of Pierce Moling’s 18 points late in the third quarter. Central responded with a 15-3 run. The Bulldogs answered, pulled back in front 48-45 with 36 seconds left in regulation, until Central’s Tyvon Taylor buried a three from out top with 14.9 seconds remaining to tie it. The Eagles dominated overtime, outscoring Kearney 13-2.
“We thought we had the advantage when they didn’t show up on time,” said Kearney’s Joe Semet, “but they got hot at the right time.”
Central’s Cyree Dunnell led all scorers with 21 points, including eight in overtime. Cornelius, who had 20 on nine-for-10 shooting, liked what he learned about his teammates.
“It feels good that we could fight through adversity,” said Cornelius, who added 12 rebounds. “I’m just glad we got to play.”
William Chrisman 60, St. Joseph Central 44
In the dressing room following his team’s victory over St. Joseph Central in the Patterson Division consolation bracket, William Chrisman coach Chad Wright told his players that help-side defense, layups and free throws win games.
On Saturday, the Bears used another method to prevail: The three-point shot.
William Chrisman connected on 66.7 percent of its three-point attempts, making eight out of 12. It helped the Bears build an 18-4 advantage en route to the victory, which made them 5-4. Gannon Ogle scored 11 points and sank all three of his three-point attempts. Eli Henderson (21 points) and Chris Horn (15 points) each made two treys.
“I made my first one and it got me going,” said Horn, who also had five rebounds and three assists. “We were knocking them down and it got all of us going.”
“When they hit those, it makes you a better coach,” he said with a grin.
St. Joseph Central, 2-7, got 16 points from Jaiden Bristol. He made seven out of 10 field goal attempts.
O’Hara 53, Oak Park 40
As trainers Saturday checked out bloodied O’Hara senior Luke Davis, the Celtics made the Oak Park Northmen feel the pain.
At less than full strength, the O’Hara Celtics notched a victory over Oak Park in a Nelson Division consolation bracket game. O’Hara, 7-3, finished without Davis, whose early injury ended in a trip top the emergency room and stitches in his head. The Celtics also got by while junior guard Nick Naudet played through a case of knee tendinitis.
“We haven’t played good for a while. The injuries are no excuse,” O’Hara coach Mark Scanlon said. “We’re just out of sync.”
C.J. Naudet scored 20 points to pace O’Hara.
“It felt good because we needed a win,” he said. “We’re not all that deep, but some guys stepped up today.”
Oak Park, 1-9, got 23 points from Marvin Joseph.
Grandview 57, North Kansas City 54 (OT)
Never count out Grandview.
Ruskin found out the hard way. In the consolation bracket of the Nelson Division, so did North Kansas City. The Grandview Bulldogs rallied from a 12-point first half deficit and defeated the North Kansas City Hornets in overtime. In its victory earlier this season against Ruskin, the Bulldogs also fought back from being behind by double figures.
“We’ve learned to dig deep, find it in our hearts,” said Grandview guard Ronny Johnson. “We know we’re better than we’ve actually played.”
Grandview, 3-6, scored the first four points in overtime, but North Kansas City, 4-4, stayed close. The Bulldogs went up by three when Darrius Walker sank two clutch free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining. The Hornets failed to get off a shot before the final horn.
North Kansas City was led by 20 points from Major Finley.