With the end of their long Ozark 7 win streak still stinging, the Purdy Eagles were intent on preserving their equally impressive home winning streak when they hosted the Southwest Trojans on Thursday, Feb. 19. Purdy's last home loss was to Verona on Feb. 23, 2007, which was also the Eagles' last Ozark 7 loss before Southwest snapped that skein with the 68-65 upset on Friday, Feb. 6.
Losing the streak to Southwest was doubly painful. Ever since the departure of Diamond from the Ozark 7 Conference, the Purdy-Southwest rivalry has been the conference's most intense.
In the first encounter between the teams, Southwest featured a new wrinkle on defense, matching lightning quick Josh Hartin against the powerful Mason Roller. When the same match-up appeared on Thursday, Roller camped in the lane and awaited easy opportunities instead of roaming the perimeter on rotation.
Purdy gunner Blake Williams broke the ice first with a short jumper from the right side, and Matthew Whittington answered for Southwest with a lift over the rim for a 2-2 tie in the opening minute. The Trojans took a 4-2 advantage when Hartin rebounded and found Levi Roberts alone down the court for the snowbird lay-up.
Roller overpowered Hartin in the lane three times to give Purdy a 10-6 lead with 4:42 to play in the first period. Roberts cut the lead to 10-9 with a basket and freebie and then Roller drew the defense with a fake on the left block and dished to Kevin Terry cutting free down the lane for a lay-up.
Austin Rettman, Southwest's streaky three-point specialist, gave Southwest another lead at 13-12 with his bomb from the left wing. Williams answered with a trey for Purdy and then Roberts bottomed out the net with his three, and the Trojans led 16-15.
Roller forced in another inside basket, and Terry and Williams followed with scores to give Purdy the final 6 points of the quarter for a 21-16 lead. The five-point spread was the biggest lead of the quarter for either team.
Rettman started the second quarter in a zone that most players only dream about. He canned three treys in the first 3:05 to pull the Trojans into a 25-25 tie. Roberts hit a pair from the charity stripe and then crippled a miniature-golf shot off the rim, backboard and rim again to give Southwest a 29-25 advantage.
Williams and Roberts traded baskets, and Purdy's Riley Veith scored to cut the lead to 31-29. Hartin rebounded and scored, drawing a foul on Veith in the process, and his free throw gave Southwest a 34-29 lead with 1:46 remaining before the half-time break.
Trenton Patton, "The Terminator," drew a foul on Whittington and converted both free throws. Veith banked in a long trey from the top of the arc to forge a 34-34 tie, and the teams retired at halftime deadlocked.
Roller forced Whittington to commit his third foul in the first 20 seconds of the third quarter and hit the second attempt for a 35-34 Purdy lead. The Trojans had no way of knowing they had seen their last lead of the contest.
With Roller controlling the paint, Purdy seized a 43-37 advantage before Rettman nailed another trey. Purdy's Chris Bennett misdirected his three attempt, but Roller got the board and stickback for a 45-40 lead at 3:32 of the third. Williams poured in three late third quarter baskets for the Eagles, but Hartin matched that with his pair of treys, and the third quarter ended with Purdy on top, 51-46.
Whittington scored on an assist from the freshman Knoll to begin the last frame. The Eagles feathered together three straight lay-ups by Terry, Williams and Roller. Roller's free throw produced the first double digit lead of the game, and the Trojans knew they were in trouble.
Rettman rained another three, but that was offset immediately by Williams' old-fashioned trey play, and the lead remained at 10 with 4:09 to go. Patton found a loose ball in the offensive paint and scored to give Purdy a dozen-point advantage.
The Eagles knocked down six of nine free throw attempts in the final 1:37 to preserve the win at 73-61.
Purdy's hammer and anvil attack of Williams and Roller produced 24 and 20 points respectively. Patton had a strong night offensively with 9, while Trent Goetz scored 7 and Terry added 6.
Southwest was led by Rettman with 21 points, while Hartin scored 17, Roberts had 13, and Whittington contributed 10.
Purdy is the host team for the Class 2 District 10 tournament, and the second-seeded Eagles will play the seventh-seeded Wheaton Bulldogs at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3.