By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Mountain Grove, Mo. — Dora’s speed, ball movement and transition game set the tone early in Tuesday’s Class 1 sectional round matchup with Chadwick.
The Falcons jumped out with a 12-1 run in the first quarter and never looked back, racing away to a 81-44 victory.
Isaac Haney poured in 21 points to lead Dora.
From the opening tip, the Falcons swarmed the Cardinal offense with an aggressive half-court trap that forced 11 turnovers in the opening period.
Dora head coach Rick Luna talked about the importance of fast starts in the postseason and avoiding any type of letdown, especially after an emotional district championship win over arch-rival Eminence.
“We’ve been really talking about getting out to a good start,” Luna said. “The boys have been preparing all your long for this. We got to this game last year, and this is where Eminence got us, so getting by them in the district championship, that was big for us. That just gave them more confidence coming into this game.”
Beneath the basket, Dora was just as effective.
Waylon Masters and Mason Luna found early success on the offensive glass. The sophomore duo combined four eight points during Dora’s opening burst.
“It’s easy points to get those,” Mason Luna said. “It’s two feet from the hole, so you should make them. I get in trouble a lot for not rebounding, so I thought I did a pretty good job on that.”
Luna finished with 20 points, joining Haney in double figures for the Falcons, along with Bryson Luna (13) and Auston Luna (12).
Coach Luna praised his team’s quick start and dominance on the boards.
“They do a good job,” Luna said. “All of them — all year long. We try to win the battle on the boards and try to force more turnovers than us. The guys — when they move the ball — they’re fun to watch.”
Constant pressure on Chadwick’s guards kept its offense from getting into any sort of rhythm during the game and forced a tempo the Cardinals were unable to match.
“Coach Guerin does a good job with his boys,” Coach Luna said. “So we’re just trying to make sure we put a lot of pressure on them early to try and force them into making a bad pass. Our team is built on speed, so we try to speed up the game, and I thought the boys did a good job with that tonight.”
Dora led 27-8 after the first quarter and stretched its lead to 32 points on Kyle Hambelton’s basket with 1:11 to play in the half.
The Falcons took a 51-19 lead into the break.
Despite the loss, Chadwick head coach Shawn Guerin talked about the positive steps his program has taken this season.
“It’s a step in the right direction for our program,” Guerin said. “We were excited to come over here and play this game against the number one team in the state. We felt like, all year, we were in the top 15 in state, so we kind of flew under the radar. We’re going to have a good summer and we’re looking forward to our guys stepping up next year.”
Jarin Cunningham led the Chadwick with 10 points.
The Cardinals end the season at 18-12 and graduate one starter in senior Evan Smith.
“It’s tough for our senior to go out like that, but I just told them I’m proud of them,” Guerin said. “I love everyone — they’re like my own kids.”
Dora is now one step away from a final four appearance; however, Mason Luna was quick to point out the fact his team has its eyes on only one thing at this point.
A state title.
“We’ve got three more games,” Luna said. “We want nothing but a state championship ring, and we want to come out and beat the next team as bad as we beat this team.”
Dora (28-1) will get its next opportunity to do just that against Risco in a quarterfinal round matchup March 2 in Van Buren.
Class 1 Sectional Final: Dora – 81, Chadwick – 44
Chadwick 08 11 15 10 — 44
Dora 27 24 26 04 — 81
Chadwick scoring: Jarin Cunningham – 10, Paden Gilbert – 6, Jacob Stevens – 7, Evan Smith – 7, Hayden Rozell – 5, Jaron VanHouden – 5, Trent Nalley – 3, Garrett Guerin – 2
Dora scoring: Isaac Haney – 21, Mason Luna – 20, Bryson Luna – 13, Auston Luna – 12, Kyle Hambelton – 7, Waylon Masters – 4, Landon Luna – 3, Korey Murphy – 1