Survived, advanced

Saturday, March 3, 2018
Colt Keeling scores 2 points for the Eagles during their win over Crocker on Saturday. Carol House/Special to the Cassville Democrat

Purdy earns first ever boys Final Four hoops berth

SPRINGFIELD — For the first time in school history, the Purdy boys basketball team punched its ticket to the Class 2 Final Four with a thrilling, 70-64 victory over Crocker Saturday at Drury University.

“This game meant everything to those boys in that locker room,” said Jeremy Dresslaer, Purdy coach. “I didn’t think we played our best game, but the name of the game at this stage is survive and advance.”

After a shaky start that saw an 11-11 tie after one period of play, Purdy used experience and speed to get to the glass and free throw line to take a 30-19 lead into the intermission.

Tyler Keeler initiated the explosion with a 5-0 surge to turn a 15-15 game into a 20-15 lead, which the Eagles would not surrender the remainder of the game.

Wanting a quick start to the second half, Dresslaer was left chewing nails as the Lions scored the first 6 points to cut the lead to 30-25 with 6:47 left in the third.

However, an old-fashioned 3-point play and then a layup up by Keeler pushed the advantage back to 10 points at 35-25 with 6:21 left.

Purdy held a 50-37 advantage when the final eight minutes began.

A pivotal series in the fourth quarter, which resulted in a made 3-pointer and loose-ball foul, allowed the Lions to trim a 60-50 lead to 60-54 with 3:55 left.

The game then came down to free throw — a bunch of free throws. The Eagles were 21-of-31 for the game and 13-of-16 in the fourth quarter.

The Lions went 24-of-35 for the game and 12-of-17 in the final frame.

“I knew once we got the game under two minutes, we would hit our free throws,” Dresslaer said. “We now have to just play and have fun and get ready for the Final Four.”

Scoring for Purdy: Colt Keeling, 22; Tyler Keeler, 20; Hunter Cook, 11; Joby Young, 7; Jose Sanchez, 5; Mason Schallert, 2; Osiel Aldava, 1.

The Eagles play Hayti in the semifinals at 6:50 p.m. on Thursday at the JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield.

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