Blake Alexander is one of the seniors that has proven vital to Strafford’s success throughout the season. Against Marionville, Alexander again brought his top performance. He scored 20 points in the win, and helped improve the team’s record to 19-4 overall.
“This is my seventh year here so I have seen these seniors grow up,” Strafford head coach Mike Wilson said. “Blake is a hard worker. He works every day in practice as hard as anybody and doesn’t say a word and never complains.”
Strafford opened the game on a 10-2 run, with the first two baskets of the game coming off of Alexander layups in transition. Though their offense was thriving early, it was the Indians’ defense that was making the largest impact on the game.
“Tonight we started all our seniors and they responded well and got us that important early lead,” Wilson said. “You are only as good as your seniors and my seniors were pretty good here tonight.”
Senior Marty Minnis has led Marionville in scoring throughout the season. Minnis scored only 14 points against Strafford though, with 12 of them coming in the first half. When Strafford was able to shut down Minnis on the offensive end of the court, the Comets’ scoring sputtered. The Indians were then able to capitalize on the lost possessions by turning them into points. In the first quarter alone, Strafford outscored Marionville 17-6 because of the effectiveness of their defense.
“We have been guarding really well,” Wilson said. “I thought we guarded well tonight at times but got a little too aggressive at times and taking chances, but overall we did a good job contesting shots.”
Marionville brought more of an aggressive style of offense to the second quarter, attacking the basket and not turning the ball over. However, Strafford closed the quarter on a strong note, capitalizing in the final minutes before the half to secure an 11-point lead.
Alexander once again led the offensive charge for the Indians coming out of the half and the third quarter began. The senior forward scored eight points in the period to lead the team and build a 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Outside of Alexander, other contributors, such as sophomore Kyle Foley, junior Jacob Wade, and senior Dylan Edwards, made their presences felt. That trio combined for 30 points, with Wade leading the way with 12. Of the team’s 65 point, only one three point shot was made by Strafford, showing their style of attacking the paint for better, more high-percentage shots.
“The three point line has changed the game but the game is won at the rim,” Wilson said. “You outrebound people and make more layups and you will win and I believe in that.”
Strafford sealed the game in the fourth quarter with six big points from Edwards and quality ball handling from their guards, sophomores Brady Collier, Dallas Hester, and Grant Boswell. The Indians outscored Marionville 14-9 in the final period to clinch the 21-point victory and final win for the seniors in their final game on their home court.
Marionville’s final game of the season will be at home on Friday as they take on Ash Grove. Strafford still has one game remaining also, as they travel to Fair Grove to take on the Eagles.
Strafford Scoring: Blake Alexander 20, Jacob Wade 12, Dylan Edwards 10, Kyle Foley 8, Grant Boswell 6, Brady Collier 5, Dallas Hester 2, Dalton Taylor 2
Marionville Scoring: Marty Minnis 14, Lathan Kerans 8, Ryan White 7, Nate Hill 6, Derek Malcom 4, Sam Maples 3, Seth Smith 2