By Dana Harding
Branson, Mo. — An inexperienced Branson lineup ran into an Arkansas buzzsaw Tuesday night in a season-opener for both teams.
Harrison wasted little time racing out to a big lead in an overwhelming 61-42 victory.
Following a first-round loss in last year’s Arkansas state tournament, the Goblins enter the 2016-17 season hungry for redemption.
Returning all five starters from a 20-8 squad doesn’t hurt, either.
Harrison’s 18-5 run to open the contest was keyed by aggressive defensive play on the perimeter from Braeden Boren and a pair of thunderous dunks from Trevor Atwell.
The 6’5” Atwell threw down the first on a transition feed from Boren, then hammered home a putback to cap the early Goblin run.
The sizeable visiting crowd erupted in celebration and was certainly noticed on the court.
“It’s amazing, really,” Boren said. “Just the feeling of the crowd cheering for you. When I threw that pass to Trevor and he dunked it … there’s just no other feeling like it.”
Harrison head coach David Stahler praised his senior guard’s effort on the defensive end.
“[Braeden] is probably our most improved player,” Stahler said. “He started all year last year, and he’s a player a lot of people don’t know about. In Arkansas, you have benefit games. We had a benefit game against Springfield Har-Ber, and he had 31 against them. Very quick, very athletic, and he had a really good game for us.”
Branson was able to respond with a small run of its own to chip away at the lead, but a string of untimely turnovers negated the comeback. Harrison surged to close the half with 13 unanswered points and a commanding 39-18 lead.
Jackson Marseilles led the Goblins with 16 points in the contest. He was joined in double figures by Boren (13) and Tanner Curry (10).
While Branson coach Kirk Hanson expected growing pains from his inexperienced roster, he lamented the considerable amount of Pirate turnovers.
“Everybody has bad offensive nights,” Hanson said. “But to look at the stat sheet and see 26 turnovers … there’s no excuse for that, unless you’re playing against eight guys. The effort was there. We played hard, but it’s just disheartening. It’s just tough. We’ve got to find some guys that will take care of the basketball.”
Hunter Weber and Nick Dapprich led Branson with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Both teams return to action following the Thanksgiving break. Harrison (1-0) travels to the Willard Tournament beginning Dec. 1, while Branson (0-1) tips off its own Battle of the Border Tournament that same date.
Varsity final: Harrison – 61, Branson – 42
Harrison 26 13 19 3 — 61
Branson 11 7 11 13 — 42
Harrison scoring: Jackson Marseilles – 16, Braeden Boren – 13, Tanner Curry – 10, Trevor Atwell – 8, Nathan Jenkins – 6, Skyler Young – 5, Colton Youngblood – 3
Branson scoring: Hunter Weber – 15, Nick Dapprich – 10, Zach Johnston – 8, Collin Pepper – 4, Brandt Morrow – 3, Britt Pierce – 2
Freshman final: Branson – 55, Harrison – 53
JV final: Branson – 28, Harrison – 24