"We played them earlier in the season and only beat them by 4, so we knew we were in for a challenge," said Cassville Coach Danny Powers.
The first quarter was a methodical half-court pace, which ended with Blue Eye on top 10-6.
Blue Eye's Adam Butler knocked down three treys, which helped the Bulldogs extend their first quarter lead. Blue Eye went into the locker room at half leading 25-16.
The Wildcats were hindered by an injury to their 6'6" big man, Ethan Lowery. He was relegated to the sideline with four minutes left in the first half.
Lowery played sparingly in the second half but still contributed 7 points.
For his efforts over the three tournament games, Lowery earned All-Tournament honors.
"He has been bothered by an Achilles tendon for a week or so," said Powers. "He tweaked it on a rebound in the second quarter."
The second half, and more specifically the third quarter, were not kind to the Wildcats, as Blue Eye's Christian Mitchell outscored Cassville by himself. Mitchell tallied 11 points, including three from beyond the arc, to Cassville's 9. The Bulldogs held a 41-25 edge after three periods.
"I give credit to Blue Eye," said Powers. "They executed a lot better on offense than when we played them earlier."
Cassville could inch no closer in the final eight minutes.
"We have to get both our older and our younger guys more confidence in their shots," said Powers. "It's no secret that we are struggling against the zone. Teams are forcing us to shoot more from the outside, and at times, it looks like we are not sure when to shoot and when not to."
Scoring for Cassville: Lowery and Logan Scott, 7 points each; Garrett Kirk and Connor Redmon, 6 each; Ty Craig, 3; and Jordan Shore and Cole Beagle, 2 apiece.
Scoring for Blue Eye: Mitchell, 20 points; Jonathan Luecke, 11; Butler, 9; Tyler Horn, 8; Markyse Goad, 6; and Jason Redford and Wyatt Newman, 2 each.
It has been said that there is no comfort in moral victories.
Nowhere was that statement more true than during the Spokane Invitational consolation basketball semifinal between Verona and Cassville on Jan. 18
For 30 of the game's 32 minutes, the smaller Class 1 Verona team frustrated and outplayed the Class 4 Cassville squad.
Verona's Ascencion Estrada used the great equalizer, the 3-point shot, to keep the purple and gold ahead for the majority of the contest. He collected five of Verona's eight downtown bombs.
Verona used speed and determination to outhustle the sluggish Cassville squad in the first period. However, the south Barry County team was able to keep the score tied 11-11 at the end of the first frame.
Verona outscored Cassville 15-10 in the second frame to take a 26-21 lead into halftime.
A neutral observer would have expected the Cassville squad to take over the game with its advantage in height, muscle and bench depth, yet the black and gold Wildcats only shaved off 3 points from Verona's lead in the third period to trail 33-30.
Cassville's break came with 4:57 left in the contest when Verona's biggest player 5'11" sophomore center Tomas Estrada fouled out.
The Wildcats trailed 39-36 and quickly went on a 4-0 run to take a 40-39 lead with 2:57 remaining.
A basket by Brent Downs with 2:25 allowed Verona to take a 41-40 lead.
However, free throws by Lowery and Scott gave Cassville a 43-41 edge.
Verona had three chances to tie or take the lead in the final 30 seconds.
When the final horn sounded, Verona knew they had let one slip away.
Scoring for Cassville: Lowery, 12 points; Beagle, 11; Shore, 10; Scott, 6; Redmon, 3; and Craig, 1.
Scoring for Verona: Ascencion Estrada, 17 points; Tomas Estrada and Justin Smith, 6 each; Dalton Miller and Seth Losack, 5 apiece; and Brent Downs, 2.