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Cougars outlast Bears in scrappy battle

Jan. 30—Fourth-seeded College Heights was slow out of the gates but used a full-court man press to wreak havoc on the fifth-seeded Sarcoxie offense in the second quarter on Tuesday evening at McAuley Catholic High School in the opening round of the boys bracket in the Mercy/Warrior Classic.

The Cougars (12-7) took a slim 12-10 lead and turned it into a 32-22 advantage by halftime. They were then able to fend off the Bears (7-12) the rest of the way and claim a 61-50 victory.

"We started out in a zone press. But then we switched to a man press. They were ready for the zone press but the man press rattled them a little bit," CHCS head coach Stephan Harrel said. "We were getting tips all game but we finally started getting those 50/50 balls in the second quarter."

That second quarter began with a layup from Sarcoxie's Garrett Smith to tie the game at 12. College Heights senior Colsen Dickens buried a 3-pointer to make it 15-12.

Later in the quarter a Caleb Quade layup made it 21-15. That's when Sarcoxie's Russell Ellis took a timeout with 5:47 showing on the clock before halftime.

Sarcoxie stayed close until a Cannon Miller layup went through and the sophomore drew a foul, made the free throw and put the Cougars up 26-19. Then Quade scored a layup, Broderick Burns made a floater in the lane and it was 30-19.

Caleb Chrisman did make a 3-pointer to get the Bears back within single digits, but Quade finished the quarter with a layup to make it a 10-point difference again.

"The second quarter got away from us a little bit," Sarcoxie head coach Russell Ellis said. "Kudos to them but I didn't feel like we did a good job of handling that (pressure). Whereas, all year we've done a good job with that."

Chrisman was vital for the Bears in this one as the junior started his first game of the year. He tallied 19 points to lead his team and cleaned up multiple missed shots for rebounds. He ran the floor and got rewarded with long passes for fastbreak layups as well. 8 of his 19 came in the fourth quarter.

"He had a great game," Ellis said. "He's been doing a great job at practice working hard. He's came off the bench all year. I felt like he earned a spot to start. He's a hustler. He's a go-getter.

"We're trying to play team basketball. He's a testament to that tonight. I bet he wasn't even on their scouting report."

College Heights was led by Quade's 16 and 14 from Dickens. Adam Stanton contributed 10.

Ellis added that he liked what he got from senior leader Smith defensively on the taller 6-foot-4 Quade; Smith is listed at 6-2.

Sarcoxie scored 5 of the second half's first 7 points to make it 34-27 early on but College Heights went on a run from there. The Cougars led by as many as 16 in the third stanza and led by 12 entering the fourth quarter.

The way the final period started, it appeared College Heights might run away with the game. A layup from Jayce Walker made it 49-35 and then a steal and breakaway gave Dickens the opportunity to toss the ball up off the backboard for an alley-oop to Quade who slammed it home to make it 51-35.

The Bears didn't blink. They went on a 9-2 run instead and got 4 points from Chrisman and a blocked shot. Chrisman also scored the next 4 for Sarcoxie to keep pace with College Heights as the score got to 57-50.

"That's a well-coached team. He's gotten his kids to buy in and play hard," Harrel said. "We like playing teams like that because it makes you better. We just had to calm down and run the offense and take what they were giving us."

"I thought we did a lot better job of taking away their dribble drive," Ellis said. "Offensively, I thought we did a great job of taking what they gave us. But we can't put ourselves down in a hole like that. Also, we limited turnovers. ... We played a much better second half. Wish we could have the second quarter back."

But the final two minutes were mostly just multiple missed shots and turnovers for both teams as the score stayed there. Quade did get a putback to go with less than a minute left to make it 59-50.

Sarcoxie couldn't get anything to fall and fouled one time to try and get the ball back but College Heights made both attempts and closed the game out after a couple missed 3-pointers on the other end.

Sarcoxie held CHCS scoreless for the first few minutes of the game before Caleb Quade slammed a dunk home to make it 6-2. Sarcoxie added another score to make it 8-2 but the Cougars responded on the next possession to make it 8-4.

The back-and-forth continued for two more possessions and then both teams went dry for a few minutes until the Cougars' Cannon Miller got open underneath and made a layup to cut the deficit to 2 at 10-8.

Sarcoxie turned the ball over again. Cutting, Stanton caught a pass just outside the lane on College Heights' next possession. The sophomore rose up from about 8 feet away and banked a shot in off the glass to make it 10-10.

The Cougars continued their run with a layup from Colsen Dickens to take the 12-10 lead with 30 seconds left in the opening quarter. The quarter ended with a missed shot from the Bears.

College Heights gets the top seed in Greenwood at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Greenwood (17-1) earned a bye in the opening round because the tournament only has seven teams.

"I would like to see us bounce back mentally," Harrel said. "You have to win and move on from this type of game. Not all wins will be pretty. The ugly ones you have to take it and move on. Just thank God and move on.

"We're going to be David and try to slay Goliath."

Sarcoxie has a bye and won't play until the consolation championship at 6:30 p.m. Friday.