Hayden Schmitz played eight minutes and hit two shots, but he was Kickapoo’s MVP on Saturday.
The 6-foot-2 senior came in with guns blazin’, hitting two 3s and igniting a 15-6 Kickapoo run that helped the Chiefs top Bolivar 71-64 in the seventh place game of the 32nd Bass Pro Tournament of Champions at JQH Arena.
“Hayden gave us a huge lift,” said Kickapoo coach Dick Rippee. “They weren’t guarding our post so putting him in there gave us another guy that can shoot the 3. He hit some big ones and that opened up stuff for our guards. It was a good adjustment.”
Trailing 48-45 entering the fourth quarter, Schmitz hit his first 3-pointer just five seconds into the final frame.
Kickapoo took a 53-50 lead later in the quarter, only to have a pair of Brandon Emmert free throws cut it back to one. That’s when Schmitz hit his second three, the start of a 9-2 run.
“We were trying to shadow Ridder with Emmert and that kid comes in cold off the bench and it’s nothing but net,” said Bolivar coach Robby Hoegh.
Kickapoo outscored Bolivar 26-16 in the fourth quarter.
Junior Jared Ridder scored a team-high 25 points, but classmate Cam Davis scored 10 of his 21 in the final quarter, catching the Bolivar defense sinking too much in help for a pair of back-breaking 3s.
“We have some great shooters and guys that can really score,” said Ridder. “If I get doubled I know I can always kick it to them for a good shot.”
Ridder and Davis combined to shoot 16-for-27 from the field. Ridder also grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots.
“That guy (Ridder) just makes shots,” said Hoegh. “He’s a really fantastic player. All their guards are so good. They made tough shots.”
Bolivar built a three-quarter lead behind the play of big man Brandon Emmert. The 6-foot-6 junior scored 21 of his team-high 25 points in the first three quarters. He also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
“He’s a tough matchup and he does that to everybody,” said Rippee. “He’s had his way with some great post moves this weekend.”
Bolivar outrebounded Kickapoo 31-19, but the Chiefs turned 12 Liberator turnovers into 13 points. Kickapoo turned the ball over just seven times.
Kickapoo also got 10 points and four assists from senior guard Isaac Johnson. Bolivar senior Bryce Krueger scored 19 and junior Conley Garrison added 17.
Billed as the real Blue and Gold Tournament championship, both teams now must refocus for conference and state championship goals.
Kickapoo was undefeated coming into the tournament and still has games with Rolla, Glendale and Waynesville in a loaded Ozark Conference slate, but will host state-ranked Nixa on Friday in a rematch of last year’s sectional game.
Bolivar is an overwhelming favorite to win the COC Small and make a return trip to Columbia, hoping to improve upon its fourth place finish at state from last spring.
Hoegh summed up the three-day experience best when asked how his team refocuses moving, using advice given to him by former Hillcrest coach John Schaefer.
“I called John who’s been here several times, the last time without Dorial, and they were a good group but didn’t have that special, special talent,” said Hoegh. “He said my kids will find out that they can do more. When the talent gets this high they start seeing the plays they are capable of making because you’re forced to have to make those plays. I saw that from all of our guys. We can always reflect back and say this is what we were doing against some of the top teams in the nation; we can do this the rest of the year and build off of it.”
Kickapoo 71, Bolivar 64
Kickapoo 14-18-13-26 – 71
Bolivar 11-15-22-16 – 64
Kickapoo: Ridder 25, Davis 21, Johnson 10, Thomas-Fontleroy 9, Schmitz 6.
Bolivar: Emmert 25, Krueger 19, Garrison 17, Scott 2, Jones 1.
Christ the King holds off Bishop Gorman in 5th place game
Jose Alvarado’s 16 points and clutch free throw shooting allowed Christ the King to hold off a furious Bishop Gorman rally, giving the Royals a 59-55 win.
Christ the King led 41-28 entering the fourth quarter and 48-39 with 3:55 to play, but the Gaels scored 15 of the game’s next 22 points, eight of which coming off the right hand of Charles O’Bannon Jr., to pull within two with 15 seconds to play.
Alvarado sank three free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
O’Bannon finished with a game-high 22 points, giving him 67 in his three games. Gonzaga commit Zach Collins finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
Christ the King 59, Bishop Gorman 55
Christ the King 15-12-14-18 – 59
Bishop Gorman 13-6-9-27 – 55
Christ the King: Alvarado 16, Rivers 10, Cleckley 10, Walker 10, Cohen 8, Bright 5.
Bishop Gorman: O’Bannon 22, Collins 19, Popoola 13, Bey 1.