Trio of area teams open season at Clever

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 75th annual Clever Boys Basketball Tournament opened Monday, Dec. 1 with the top-seeded, hometown Blue Jays destroying Miller's JV squad, 80-6. Five days later, in the tournament championship, Jeremy Dresslaer, of Clever erupted with 29 points, and the Blue Jays defeated Purdy 61-34 to win the tournament.

Sparta held Marionville to a mere two points in the second quarter and went on to win the third place game, 43-29. Galena defeated Southwest 61-54 in the consolation bracket game, despite Josh Hartin's 20-point outburst for the Trojans.

A recap of key tournament games involving Purdy, Cassville and Southwest, who all competed in the tourney is provided below.

Southwest upset in first round game

In the first round of play, fourth-seeded Southwest fell to Marionville, the #5 seed, 47-32.

While Southwest's system revolves around the speed of its veteran guards, Josh Hartin and Levi Roberts, Marionville features big center Drew Setzer, and the scoring tandem of Brandon Verfurth and Pedro Figuero.

Southwest's Matt Whittington controlled the opening tip, and then Austin Rettman buried a long three as the Trojans broke on top. The teams traded baskets and Southwest led 5-4 halfway through the first quarter, but Whittington collected his second foul at the 3:30 mark, an ominous sign for a team noticeably smaller at every position.

Still, Southwest seemed the more aggressive team as Hartin popped a three to extend the lead to 8-4.

Enter Brandon Verfurth for Marionville. The 6'2" swingman for the Comets drove the lane, drew a foul on Justin Barber, and nailed both free throws to halve the lead with 1:02 on the first quarter clock. Then with 20 seconds remaining in the stanza, Verfurth connected with a soft jumper to knot the score at 8-8.

The fuse had been lit. Verfurth scored three more buckets in the first four minutes of the second quarter, and the Comets built a 15-8 lead. Southwest's guard tandem responded, as Hartin hit a pair from the charity stripe and stroked a three-pointer, followed by Roberts' steal and layup to tie the game.

Marionville called time, and then sophomore guard Chris Banks notched two baskets in the final 1:30 of the quarter, and the Comets owned a 19-15 halftime lead.

Marionville opened the third quarter with an 8-3 run on a pair of Verfurth buckets and scores by Figuero and Caleb Wells to push the lead to 27-18 and force a Southwest timeout with 5:05 on the clock. When play resumed, Verfurth scored on a powerful drive through the lane to fuel another Marionville scoring run of 10-3 to establish a 37-21 lead as the quarter expired.

Southwest fought desperately in the fourth quarter and outscored Marionville 11-10, but the Comets seemed more intent on running out the clock than piling on points. When the horn blew, Marionville held the winning margin of 47-32.

Verfurth led all scorers with 21 points, while Josh Hartin led Southwest with 15.

Purdy's Blake Williams looks for someone open inside against some defensive pressure from Cassville's Chris Smith. Photo by Linda Patton

Purdy tops Cassville

For three quarters, the Cassville Wildcats held the Purdy Eagles in check, trailing only 37-32. But the Eagles exploded on offense and held the Cats to only three fourth quarter points and rolled to a 54-35 win in first round action at the Clever Tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 2.

While Purdy enjoyed a 12-6 lead after a quarter, the Eagles had trouble getting the ball inside to strongman Mason Roller. The swarming Cassville defense limited Roller to touches far from the paint throughout the first half. When Roller went to the bench late in the second period, Cassville enjoyed a nice run and trailed only 18-15 at the half.

When Ryan Pace canned a shot with just over six minutes left in the third, Cassville moved within a point at 18-17. After Purdy extended the lead, Chris Smith pulled the Cats back to a one-point deficit at 23-22. It was the closest Cassville would come to the lead.

Blake Williams stole a Cassville interior pass and drove the length of the floor to score, then blocked a shot on the following Cassville possession. Roller converted a pair of free throws, and Williams put on a highlight reel for the remaining 2:41 of the quarter, scoring three baskets and four free throws to push the Eagles to a 37-32 advantage.

Two things hit Cassville hard in the fourth quarter: fatigue and Blake Williams. Purdy's scoring leader lit up the scoreboard with four more easy baskets and converted the first of two free throw attempts. The Wildcats also suffered a long offensive drought, not scoring in the frame until Pace canned a free throw with 1:29 left in the game.

Cassville's Rocky Young scored the game's final points with a pair from the free throw line with 32 ticks remaining, and Purdy collected the 54-35 victory.

Williams led the Eagles with 26 points, while Roller chipped in 13. Pace led Cassville with 9 points and Lugeanbeal added 7.

Southwest crushes Miller JV

After getting blown out by Clever 80-6 on Monday, the Miller JV team fared no better against Southwest. The Trojans were already smarting from being the only upset victim of the first round and were in a "take no prisoners" mood from the opening tip.

Southwest forced Miller into 10 consecutive turnovers to start a contest that was never in doubt. Hartin's long three-pointer from the left wing with 2:35 left in the first half pushed the Trojans to a 50-5 lead. Southwest led 53-6 at half and cruised to a 80-9 win.

Roberts led Southwest scorers with 25 points, Hartin had 19, and Whittington contributed 17. Nine players scored in the contest for Southwest.

Galena nips Cassville in OT

Galena High School coach Wes Murphy had that frustrating déjà vu feeling going in Thursday's late game against the Cassville Wildcats. After blowing a 15-point lead and losing to Sparta on Tuesday, Galena built a thirteen point lead over Cassville with 4:03 remaining in the first half, but frittered that away and led by only 30-26 at halftime.

Marcus Aschwege led the Bears early blitz, scoring 13 points in the first half. But after Aschwege hit a pretty fadeaway jumper to give Galena a 28-18 lead, Cassville stormed back. Smith scored for the 'Cats, and then Jon Botson punished the Bears for a turnover with his gravity-defying shot to cut the lead to 28-22.

Then Smith scored baskets following consecutive steals, and the lead was down to two at 28-26. Aschwege scored on the ensuing inbounds play for Galena and the half ended at 30-26.

In the third quarter, Cassville applied pressure as momentum slowly swung the Wildcats' way. As the lead dwindled again, Coach Murphy's frustration spilled over and the Galena coach was whistled for a technical foul with 20 seconds remaining in the third period. But Galena still led 40-39, even after Cassville's Axl Larson converted one of the two free throws following the "T".

Cassville inbounded the ball from the side, and Josh Lewright swished a jumper with seven ticks on the clock to give the Wildcats their first lead at 41-40.

It took three minutes of the fourth quarter for Galena to knot the score at 44-44. Both teams slowed the pace with every possession becoming critical. With less than a minute to play, Aschwege scored again to give the Bears a 53-49 advantage. Nashe Lugeanbeal immediately answered for Cassville and the lead returned to two points.

Lugeanbeal fouled Galena's Chris Foster with 13.6 seconds left, and the 6' junior converted the second free throw to establish a 54-51 margin. With time running out, Cassville's Smith hoisted a desperation three that found the bottom of the net to force overtime.

In the extra frame, Cassville led briefly at 56-54, and again at 58-56. But Galena scored the final four points of the game and hung on to win 60-58.

"We shot poorly from the free throw line," said Cassville Coach Randy Robertson after the game. "But we still had chances to win, we just didn't get it done."

Pace led Wildcat scoring with 17 points followed by Lugeanbeal with 12 and Smith with 11. Pace also had a big night on the boards, pulling down 13 rebounds. Smith was credited with four steals.

Purdy Eagles fly over Sparta

In Friday night semi-final action, Williams continued his early-season scoring tear, and Purdy topped Sparta, 59-49. Purdy twice held 16-point leads in the first half, 28-12 and 32-16, before retiring at halftime with a 34-22 lead.

Both teams were plagued by foul trouble, with Sparta's leading scorer, Brad Jenkins, collecting his third personal with 3:00 remaining in the first half.

Sparta stormed back in the third quarter. Led by Jenkins and Brad Thompson, Sparta cut the lead to 44-41 as Thompson buried a three pointer as the 3rd quarter clock waned.

Purdy regained an 11-point advantage with just three minutes left in the game, and ran a lot of clock down the stretch to secure the victory, 59-49. The Eagles were led in the scoring column by Williams with 27 points and Roller with 14. Jenkins led Sparta with his 16 points, and Brandon Thompson added 15.

No consolation for Southwest

Southwest's Josh Hartin sank three treys in the first six minutes to keep the Trojans in the game against Galena. The Bears held a 16-15 edge after the first quarter, and pushed to a 31-23 halftime advantage behind the shooting of Ricket and Aschwege.

The Trojans attacked furiously to start the third quarter. Hartin hit a three, and Austin Rettman made a layup and a three to pull Southwest to within four points. With 4:05 on the clock, Hartin hit another three and was fouled in the act. His free throw pulled Southwest into a 37-37 tie.

From there, Ricket took over for the Bears. He scored consecutive baskets to earn a 10-point advantage and Southwest called timeout with 3:00 on the clock. Galena carried that margin into the last period, and Southwest could not recover. Plagued by foul trouble, the Trojans lost, 61-54.

Dressler too "clever" for Purdy

Purdy's deliberate strategy kept the Eagles in the game against Clever in the championship game. Even though Roller and Williams were well guarded, Purdy only trailed 12-8 and 23-16 after the first two quarters.

Clever's Jeremy Dressler went on a scoring spree to start the third quarter, collecting three quick baskets. From there, the Blue Jays outmanned the Eagles, and scored a convincing 61-34 knockout to win their own tournament.

Dressler, who was named the tournament's MVP, finished with 29 points in the game, and was easily the most impressive player in the tournament. Roller scored 11 points, and Williams finished with 10 for Purdy.

All-tournament honors

A trio of Barry County players were named to the 10-member All-Tournament team. Williams and Roller, of Purdy, were selected for the first team, and Hartin, of Southwest, was chosen for the second team.

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