Billings, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- The game between Billings and Crane basketball teams Friday evening was not exactly a “David versus Goliath” matchup. For one thing, the Crane Pirates are no David, being 10th-ranked in Class 2.
For another thing, Goliath won this battle. The top-ranked Class 2 Billings Wildcats pushed their record to 13-1 with an 84-53 homecoming victory.
Right out of the gate, Billings asserted their dominance on the scoreboard and the backboard by scoring the first basket with the help of two offensive rebounds. Billings owned the paint for most of the game with a +12 rebounding margin.
According to Billings senior Austin Essick, the team made it a point of emphasis to improve their defensive effort.
“We looked at Crane’s stats and we saw that they got a lot of offensive boards,” he said. “So we did block out drill after block out drill during practice to boost our confidence.”
It paid off as Essick posted a double-double, scoring 16 points and with 11 rebounds and also tallying five assists. Junior Dawson Meyer scored a game-high 24 points for Billings after sitting out the past two games with a minor injury. And Seniors Brady Chastain and Chad Yeokum were effective from long range scoring 22 and 16 points, respectively.
“We’ve had a lot of good battles with Crane over the past couple of years,” said Billing head coach Kendall Tilley. “We were hitting our shots tonight and making them work a little bit.”
Crane head coach Dale Lamberth credited Billings for their strong showing, but was encouraged by his team’s effort down the stretch.
“When you come back after 2 weeks off against the top-ranked team you’ve got to be sharp,” Lamberth said. “We came out flat and that’s mostly on me.”
Crane was led by seniors Bailey Moore, with 16 points and Jordan Bowling, with 13 points and eight rebounds. Crane drops to 10-3 on the season.
Both teams will play Southwest Central Conference foes next Tuesday. Billings will have a home game against Sparta; Crane will also be at home facing Clever.
The schedule has been set for the 2013 Blue and Gold Tournament, held Dec. 26-30 on the campus of Missouri State University.
Here are some initial thoughts on the matchups to watch and how the bracket will play out.
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