Strafford jumped out to an early first quarter lead by pressing the Pirates which created numerous turnovers resulting in critical transition buckets for the Indians.
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Ash Grove struggled to get the ball in the hole throughout most of the first half, scoring only four points in the second quarter. Strafford led by 20 at halftime 34-14, and they continued their successful strategy into the second half to pull away with a margin of 34 points, taking home the tournament title.
“We started out with a strong approach to force Ash Grove to contend against our solid defense,” said Strafford head coach Mike Wilson. “If we could contest shots, that would keep them from shooting the ball well. We thought that they might have trouble trying to shoot it over our aggressive defense, it worked early and then again later in the game.”
Strafford’s junior forward Jacob Wade, led the way for the Indians knocking down a total of 17 points. Tanner Dollen’s of Ash Grove scored 8 in the first half, and hit a long field goal in the fourth quarter finishing with 10 points.
The Indians were extremely athletic and quick on their feet in every aspect of the game throughout their tournament, forcing 30 turnovers in a 41 point victory over Mountain Grove in the quarterfinals, and collecting 25 turnovers in a 21 point win in the semifinals against Aurora.
“Well we think we have the chance to be pretty decent this season when we value the basketball. I’m pleased with how we came out to play today,” Wilson said. “We lost last year as the number one seed, so it’s nice to win our own tournament which is one of the big goals of ours.”
Strafford 17 17 15 22 - 71
Ash Grove 10 4 16 7 - 37
Aurora drops Fair Grove for third place
The Houn Dawgs held off the Eagles 62-54 in an exciting battle for the bronze. - CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS
“Strafford beat the thunder out of us physically and mentally on Thursday,” said Aurora head coach Daniel Cutbirth. “So today we wanted to set the tone and we did just that.”
The first quarter was a back and forth battle ending in Aurora’s favor 15-12. Andrew Parker though solidified the momentum for the Houn Dawgs after nailing not one, but two buzzer beaters beyond the arc during the third place game of the Strafford Tournament.
“If we wouldn’t have hit those buzzer beaters, we would have been in trouble,” said Cutbirth. “In both of those shots, Fair Grove had the offensive drive in their favor when making those late quarter runs, but you could see the energy drain from Fair Grove when we hit those, so that was huge for us.”
Fair Grove’s duo of Deric Link (20) and Brock Derrick (15) each grabbed double figures for the Eagles. Aurora took more of a balanced approach led by Garrett Bader’s 14 points, Clayton Sumners and Dylan Cullers chipped in 11 with Jordan Fronbarger pouring 10 points of his own in Aurora’s third place win.
Aurora 15 16 16 15 - 62
Fair Grove 12 12 14 16 - 54