Trojans win Holiday Tournament
The Southwest Trojans broke a 12-year drought and won their own Southwest Holiday Tournament on Thursday night, pummeling Wheaton in the final, 64-44.
The Trojans, seeded fourth in this year's tournament, mowed down Pea Ridge (60-38), top-seeded Billings (81-60) and Wheaton (64-44) to claim the championship. Wheaton reached the championship game with solid wins over Cassville and Purdy.
While both Tyler Ferguson and Travis Hayworth, of the Trojans, made the All-Tournament team, Skylar Knoll turned in another strong performance in the finale against the Bulldogs.
By the time Southwest and Wheaton took the floor, most coaches had already turned in their ballots. Knoll, the only true center in the tournament, recorded a double-double performance (15 points, 13 boards) against the Bulldogs that was worthy of an MVP award.
Wheaton's Sean Goostree scored a game-high 17 points before fouling out. Southwest's trapping pressure defense limited Goostree's touches and points in the contest.
"They go eight deep, and they can all guard," noted Cleo Elbert, the venerable coach of Thomas Jefferson while scouting the Trojans.
Southwest broke with an 11-2 run to start the contest and led 16-9 after one period. Jordan Epling and Jeff Elkins scored 6 and 4 points respectively. Wheaton was hamstrung with two early fouls on Bubba Galvan, and the Trojans capitalized inside while he sat on the bench.
At halftime, Southwest led, 34-23. The stifling heat in the packed gym and the depth of the Trojans wore on the Bulldogs as the score mounted. Goostree picked up his second foul when he contested a fast break dunk attempt by James Pettit with 4:16 on the clock.
A 16-6 third period gave the Trojans a 21-point bulge at 50-29. Knoll surprised the Bulldogs and everyone else in the gym with a long trey for the final points of the quarter.
Wheaton could get no closer than 16 in the final going, and the Trojans claimed the win, 64-44. Fittingly, Knoll grabbed the final rebound and dribbled out the clock.
"It feels great to bring the trophy back home," said Knoll after the championship game. "The defense won it; that's the way we play."
Southwest scorers: Skylar Knoll, 15; Tyler Ferguson, 15; Jordan Epling, 14; James Pettit, 9; Jeff Elkins, 8; Cristian Sellars, 2; and Travis Hayworth, 1.
Wheaton scorers: Sean Goostree, 17; Jory Bartkoski, 8; Bubba Galvan, 6; Kyle Robbins, 5; Justin Yeary, 4; and Justin Walker, 4.
Players named to the All-Tournament first team are: Brady Chastain, Billings; Tucker Anderson, East Newton; Dakota Woodward, Pea Ridge, Ark.; Tyler Ferguson, Southwest; and Sean Goostree, Wheaton.
Second team: Nick Lytle, Hollister; Ricky Nichols, Cassville; Drew Williams, Purdy; Austin Essick, Billings; and Travis Hayworth, Southwest.