The Southwest Trojans swept through the round robin format of the Sarcoxie High School Boys Basketball Tournament and captured the championship trophy in a high-scoring victory over host Sarcoxie, 85-66, on Saturday, Jan. 24.
The Trojans were on fire early, scoring a jaw-dropping 29 points in the opening quarter. The Bears owned an early 2-0 lead, but that was swept away like leaves in a forest fire as junior point guard Josh Hartin led Southwest with 9 first quarter points.
But somebody forgot to tell the Trojans when the second quarter started. Southwest opened the second stanza as cold as ice, and Sarcoxie rolled up a 9-0 run over the first three minutes of that frame. Still, the Trojans held a 30-20 lead when Matthew Whittington hit the first of a pair of free throws with 4:59 remaining in the half.
Southwest stretched the lead to 15 on a Hartin lay-up with only 12 seconds left before halftime, but Sarcoxie's Nick Hamilton willed a 12-foot jumper into the net at the buzzer and the Trojans led 43-30 at the break.
The third quarter welcomed Southwest freshman Tyler Ferguson to the scoring fest. After Austin Rettman opened the can of points with a sharp trey, Ferguson collected the next two baskets for the Trojans, the second being a long "Where did that come from?" heave from the right wing to give Southwest the 51-32 lead.
While the home crowd cheered mightily for every Bears basket, Sarcoxie could not contain Southwest in general and Levi Roberts in particular. In a two and a half minute stretch in the fourth quarter, Roberts scored 9 of his game-high 33 points, and the Trojans coasted home as 85-66 victors.
Besides Roberts' heroics, Hartin scored 19 for Southwest and Rettman contributed 17.
After the game, Jason Horn summed up the game with a blunt, "We couldn't guard anybody." Remember, he was the winning coach in this shootout. His Trojans improved to 10-6 on the season and extended their current win streak to six.
The Sarcoxie High School Boys Basketball Tournament consists of four teams playing a round robin schedule.
Last Tuesday, the Southwest boys defeated New Covenant Academy 53-45. Despite a poor first-half shooting performance, Southwest was able to control the first half against a young and talented New Covenant Academy team.
NCA pulled ahead in the third quarter and stretched the lead to 6 points. The Southwest offense came to life in the fourth when Hartin and Roberts knocked down back-to-back treys.
The Trojans applied the heat with pressure defense and took the lead for good with 3:21 remaining in the game. Southwest led by as many as 10 in the final minutes and won 53-45.
"NCA did a good job of getting the pace of the game slowed down," said Coach Horn after the game. "I thought our guys did a good job of battling back when things weren't falling for us. I have to give a lot of credit to our guys for their defensive effort tonight, as that's what gave us the opportunity to win."
Roberts led Southwest with 27 points against the Warriors.
Southwest controlled College Heights 71-37 on Friday night to remain unbeaten. Southwest owned the second quarter, outscoring the Cougars 19-2 in that frame and pulling away to a 35-14 half-time lead.
Five Trojans scored in double figures in the contest. Hartin led with 15, Whittington had 13, Roberts and Rettman both scored 12, and freshman Skylar Knoll hit for 11.