By Don Eskins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Class 2 No. 8 Crane Pirates (16-2) downed the Marionville Comets 70-58 Saturday afternoon in Crane to claim this year’s Crane Invitational Basketball Tournament Championship.
Trailing by two points at the half, 29-27, the Pirates turned on the jets over the game’s final two periods of play, outscoring the Comets 43-29, to grab the 70-58 victory.
“We knew that getting by Marionville (10-6) in the final would be tough. They have a very good team and coach Ted Young always has his kids ready to play,” said Crane head coach Kevin Smith.
The Comets led 15-11 after the completion of first quarter play but the Pirates bounced back to pull within two at the half, 29-27, after outpointing the Comets 16-14 in the second period.
Josh Goodman put up eleven points for Marionville in the first half. Gavin Stanton followed Goodman with six. Brecken Vaught led all Crane scorers with seven.
“Our game plan was to press and trap them all night and for the most part it worked well. To do that though we had to use all eight of our players,” said coach Smith. “Being able to go eight deep kept our kids fresh throughout the contest. I think, over the course of the game, we were able to wear them down.”
The Crane press began to pay off for the Pirates early in the second half as they put up 24 points to Marionville’s 15 in the third period and then outscored the Comets 19-14 in the fourth to get the win.
Crane’s Jacob Woodward, with a 12-point effort in the fourth period, put the Comets away. The 6’4″ junior hit four field goals and went four-for-four at the free throw line. He finished out the night as Crane’s leading scorer with twenty-two points.
“It always feels good to beat a rival at home,” said Woodward. “Downing the Comets in the final of our own tournament was definitely a big win for us.”
Also registering points for Crane were: Ty Campbell (19), Isaiah Smith (10), Brecken Vaught (7), Wes Branstetter (6) and Bryston Branstetter (6).
Putting up points for Marionville were Josh Goodman (17), Gavin Stanton (15), Laythen Utke (14), Evan Dotson (6,) Jordan Williams (4) and Dominic Clevenger (2).
Ryan Keith – Walnut Grove
Dawson Meinders – Walnut Grove
Gavin Stanton – Marionville
Josh Goodman – Marionville
Bryston Branstetter – Crane
Tyler Campbell – Crane (MVP)