By Matt Turer — firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia, Mo. — Mountain Grove head coach Duane Hiler sat down between Cade Coffman and Treye Collins Thursday night in the press room inside Mizzou Arena exhausted and frustrated yet steadfast.
For the second straight season, the Panthers fell a game short of a shot at the school’s first state boys basketball title, losing 79-72 to Northwest Academy (20-10) in a game largely impacted by foul trouble.
Mountain Grove (28-3) led 65-63 with 3:44 to play when Coffman, who finished with 25 points and nine rebounds, fouled out. Carter Otwell and Brock Coffman followed with their fifth fouls and Northwest took advantage with a 16-7 run to close out the game and advance to the school’s first state title game.
“This is a good group,” Hiler said of the Panthers. “They’re competitors. We got beat by a good basketball team tonight. Very athletic. I tip my hat to them. They make plays when they had to make plays. Their big kind of owned the paint and they went to him when they needed to.”
Ryan Warren led the Hornets with 26 points while Jamarr Williams recorded a double-double, putting up 24 points and 10 boards.
Mountain Grove out-rebounded Northwest 42-40 but allowed 18 offensive boards, collecting 15 of their own as well.
“They kind of pretty much owned the paint on us,” Hiler said. “We knew that was going to be a problem and we knew offensive rebounding was going to be a problem even though we thought we had pretty good position, didn’t work out well.”
Trailing by eight with 5:29 left in the third quarter, the Panthers responded with a 20-3 run to go up 56-47 with under a minute to play in the third.
“We were getting overly excited when they had the long run,” Northwest head coach Gerald Jones said. “We had our guards trying to make a big play for us instead of just allowing us to execute an offense. We’re good enough that if we play together we can execute.”
The Panthers had four players in double digits, led by Coffman. Collins contributed 15 points, Conner McNew 14 and Carter Otwell 11.
Mountain Grove will face Hogan Prep (23-7) in Friday’s third-place game at 2:30 pm in Mizzou Arena.
“We do what we do,” Hiler said. “We compete. We play hard. We show up every night, we lace them up, we go out and bust our tail and whoever it is you play, that’s what you do. We don’t make excuses. We don’t whine and cry. We’ll get up in the morning, have breakfast and get ready to play a ballgame.”
FINAL: Northwest Academy 79, Mountain Grove 72
Mountain Grove 18 13 26 15- 72
Northwest Academy 20 14 21 24- 79
Mountain Grove- Cade Coffman 25, Treye Collins 15, Conner McNew 14, Carter Otwell 11, Brock Coffman 5, Gavin Veach 2
Northwest Academy- Ryan Warren 26, Jamarr Williams 24, Rayonte Childs 11, Javon Bolden 7, Willshon Warren 6, Damein Carver 3, Kenneth Coleman 2