By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
It was their third meeting this season and the most anticipated; Dora and Eminence faced off for the final time Tuesday night in a winner-take-all showdown, the class 1 sectional playoffs.
In their most commanding victory of the three, the Redwings topped the Falcons, 76-61.
“Wow,” said Eminence head coach Pete McBride. “My guys played well. I couldn’t be prouder of a group of kids that love each other and play as a team. We’ve been in this game for the past three years, and in the moments when we got a little shaky, we just came right back and got a basket to answer whatever they did.”
The teams were neck and neck from the start, a single bucket separating them after one quarter, Dora trailing by five at the half.
But the Redwings blew the game open in the third.
“We handled their pressure and our big guys went to work inside, and our guys got them the ball,” said Eminence head coach Pete McBride. “We knew that was our advantage.”
The Redwings were dominant in the paint as they did not record a single shot from behind the arc on the night.
McBride said when Dora activated the triangle and two against Trent and Ethan, their teammates stepped up and made them pay. Eminence led by 14 entering the final frame.
It also didn’t hurt that Grant Dyer went lights out, adding 30 points. “Grant had a monster game,” said McBride.
“I knew I needed to step up and score points,” said Dyer, “and I knew we were going to have to get the job done on defense. We did this by working hard, getting stops, shifting well, and talking.”
A huge piece to the Eminence victory was effectively shutting down Dora freshman phenom Isaac Haney, who averaged 22.5 points per game and finished the year with 676 points, the second most all-time for a freshman in Missouri history. Haney had only two points until late in the fourth quarter, where he added 12.
“A lot of credit goes to Robert Keeling,” said Coach McBride. “He was on (Haney) like a glove all night; he just was in his face and he was relentless, never had a possession he lost him…he just did a phenomenal job on him. And then our other guys stepped up and followed the game plan and did what we asked them to do defensively.”
“It’s nice when a plan comes together,” he added.
Dora closes their season with a 24-6 record. Eminence moves to 29-1, and they next face Advance on March 3 in Van Buren.
Scoring for Dora:
Austin White, 3, Mason Luna, 12, , Auston Luna, 13, Isaac Haney, 14, Bryson Luna, 17.
Scoring for Eminence:
Wyatt Spurgin, 1, Ethan Drake, 5, Kyndal Copeland, 8, Trent McBride, 16, Wade Dyer, 16, Grant Dyer, 30.