By Scott Vanscoy (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Cabool, MO — In the semifinals of the Cabool Holiday Tournament, the No. 1 seeded Licking Wildcats scratched their way to a 62-55 win over the No. 4 seeded Thayer Bobcats. The scoring was kept low in the first quarter as both teams really didn’t begin hitting their shots until the second quarter.
The shots started to fall in the second quarter for both sides, with Licking holding a precarious 5-point lead, 25-20, at the half. Thayer senior Ayden Stone scored six of his team-leading 20 points in the second quarter. Licking’s Wilson Murray knocked down six points and G.T. Nicholson had seven points to lead the Wildcats into halftime.
Nicholson scored nine of his game-high 25 points in the third quarter, almost outscoring the Thayer team, who had 11.
“We made good shots,” said Nicholson. “We made all our free throws. We always try to dominate the boards and kick it out to the shooters. We’ve got shooters out there, too.”
In the fourth quarter, Licking put the game away, going 12-17 at the free throw line and getting two big three’s from senior Kaden Quick.
“Licking was like I thought they would be,” said Thayer coach Matt Pitts. “They are well coached and very, very talented. They out-rebounded us tonight and that is something we don’t give up a lot of times. They worked their tails off. We didn’t rebound and I think that was the difference in the game.”
In the final quarter, Thayer was forced to full court press Licking. They caused the Wildcats to turn the ball over but did not manage to take advantage of Licking’s miscues.
“We got them to turn it over but didn’t really capitalize much,” said Pitts. “We forced a few things, got in a hurry, but being young and a little bit inexperienced that happens sometimes. We played hard to the end but it just didn’t go our way.”
Thayer’s desperation press gave Licking trouble.
“We made a couple of mistakes, we took off dribbling a little too quickly,” said Licking coach Ben Glasgow. “We got out of position two times and we had openings but we didn’t take advantage of them. We hadn’t made very many turnovers up until then. We have not really struggled with the press, we just made some bad decisions. When you play three days in a row, sometimes the ugly finds its way out.”
Thayer is a quality team but they did not get to the free throw line as often as they would have liked, shooting six free throws to Licking’s 29. Glasgow was very complimentary of the Bobcats’ efforts.
“They’re really good and they don’t make many mistakes so you have to beat them because they will not beat themselves,” said Glasgow. “I like that about them. They are impressive, as far as the way they play. They have good players but they also play well. They are really well-coached and do everything right. I like playing against them, just because I like the way they play.”
Licking will face Dora, which upset No. 2 seed Eminence in the semifinals
Licking—Wilson Murray-12, Michael Milhizer-5, Garrett Duncan-5, G.T. Nicholson-25, Kaden Quick-12, James Swan-3
Thayer— Josh Goodman-29, Gavin Stanton-16, Laythen Utke-6, Wesley Breedlove-2, Kale Bateman-2, Ryan Mayberry-2, Evan Dotson-2
Licking 12 13 15 22 62
Thayer 8 12 11 24 55