Jared Frey scored a career-high 35 points, as Pierce City outscored Purdy 80-73 at Pierce City on Friday night, Jan. 9.
The rematch of the championship game of the Southwest Holiday Tournament figured to again be a scoring contest between Pierce City's Sooter brothers and Mason Roller and Blake Williams, of Purdy. But Frey crashed the party with his unexpected outburst and helped Pierce City improve to 9-3 on the season, including a streak of six straight victories.
The consensus among area coaches on defending Pierce City is almost a mantra: "The Sooters are the shooters." Frey proved the folly of fortune cookie advice, taking advantage of gaps in Purdy's interior defense. He knocked down four treys also, including a buzzer beater from just inside the halfcourt line to send Pierce City to the dressing room up two instead of down one.
Purdy broke strong from the gate in this one, scoring the game's first 4 points and pushing to a 9-4 advantage midway through the first quarter. Roller powered up and scored with just :36 left in the frame and Purdy led 15-10 at the end of the quarter.
Williams' two buckets bracketed a basket by Pierce City's Jared Barchak and extended Purdy's lead to 19-12. Back-to-back treys by Frey pulled Pierce City within a point, and the home team took its first lead at 24-23 with 3:01 left in the half when Frey connected again on a 10-foot jumper.
The teams traded the lead, and Purdy appeared headed for a halftime lead when Williams hit a pair of free throws with only two seconds left. But Frey took the inbounds pass and swished a 30-footer at the buzzer, and Pierce City held a 32-30 lead at intermission. In retrospect, that was the ballgame, as Purdy never led in the second half.
Frey opened the third quarter by taking the inbounds pass and driving right down main street for a lay-up and canned another bomb with 6:45 on the clock for a 39-34 Pierce City lead. Roller fouled Frey to prevent another lay-up at the 5:08 mark, and his two perfect free throws gave the home Eagles their biggest lead of the game at 45-36.
Purdy's Kevin Terry poured in a three and a lay-up to cut the lead to four, answered by Dietrick Sooter's long three, and the score reached 50-43.
Purdy just couldn't get over the hump in the second half, as the lead oscillated in the five- to eight-point range, peaking at 11 when Frey fed Robert Baldwin for a lay-up with 10 seconds left in the third frame for a 60-49 Pierce City lead.
Purdy made a final late run to pull within five at 73-68 with 2:19 remaining, but Frey snared an offensive board and scored. Baldwin then surprised the Purdy defense with a short jumper, and Wayne Sooter hit a trio of free throws to preserve the win.
Purdy was plagued by inopportune misses at the free throw line throughout the game and had no answer inside when Frey caught the ball in the paint.
Frey led all scorers with 35, while Dietrick Sooter and Baldwin scored 16 and 13 respectively for Pierce City. Williams tallied an impressive 29 points for Purdy, while Roller added 15 and Trent Goetz scored 10.
"We were missing a couple of kids early in the year when we started 3-3," explained T. J. Dickinson, the Pierce City coach. "We're healthy now, and the kids are playing really well."
Purdy played at Seneca on Monday, Jan. 12 and will host Sarcoxie this Friday, Jan. 16.