Bolivar, Mo. (For OzarksSportsZone.com) -- A young Macks Creek team came of age this week at the Missouri Class 1-District 6 tournament as the Pirates defeated Humansville in the championship game on Saturday, 67-55, capturing the school's first district title in boys' basketball since 1995.
The Pirates got a big game from sophomore post player Cody Eidson and junior guard Austin Mitchell.
Mitchell scored 21 points and Eidson added 20 points and eight rebounds as Macks Creek denied Humansville its first district title since 1965. Humansville first-year head coach Josh Graves said despite the loss, it was quite a run in district play for the No. 6 seed as the Tigers defeated No. 3 seed Weaubleau and No. 2 seed Wheatland before falling on Saturday.
Humansville finished the season 12-14, but won five straight before falling to Macks Creek on Saturday, and increased its win total from just seven last season.
"I think it is a tremendous testament to these boys," said Graves. "Our program has traditionally struggled a little bit, but it is a testament to the boys' character that they won 12 games and beat two (teams) as a No. 6 seed. We finished on a five-game winning streak and that is them sticking with it and buying in — and that is tough to do with a first-year head coach."
On Saturday, the Tigers opened strong as senior guard Zach Payne scored 12 of his 20 points in the first quarter. Humansville held a 16-11 lead with 3:25 remaining in the first quarter, but Eidson got going in the paint as the 6-foot-5 sophomore scored eight points in the first frame and 15 in the first-half. The Pirates took a seven-point (38-31) lead to the half.
Humansville took Eidson away in the third quarter as they surrounded the big man, but sophomore guard Thomas Willis scored a pair of baskets. Freshman guard Matthew Hicks scored five baskets and Mitchell hit a 3-pointer to give the Pirates a 51-42 lead heading to the fourth.
Humansville scored on each of its first two possessions in the final frame to pull within seven, but it was as close as the Tigers would get.
"We really struggled (early) finding their shooters, especially (Payne) early," said Macks Creek head coach Brad Briscoe. "(Payne) was hitting everything and we felt we had to make an adjustment and went straight (man-to-man defense) the rest of the game. I thought our execution down the stretch was as good as it has been all year. We really got the looks that we wanted and we were able to capitalize."
Macks Creek will return to Bolivar on Tuesday for a Missouri Class 1 sectional game against the Fair Play Hornets, which will be played at 6 p.m. at Southwest Baptist University. Fair Play defeated Everton 76-56 in its district championship game on Saturday.
The game will be a rematch of a Feb. 8 contest between Macks Creek and Fair Play, which was won by the Hornets, 80-64, in Fair Play. Fair Play is 24-3 and ranked No. 9 in the latest Missouri Class 1 poll, but saw Eidson score 42 points and haul in 20 rebounds when the two teams last players.
"We knew that that we have everyone coming back next year — we don't have a senior on our team — but you never know when these moments are going to come around," said Briscoe. "You have to seize every opportunity possible. We think we have a real bright future, but you never know what can happen and you can't take anything for granted."
Missouri Class 1 District 6 championship game
MACKS CREEK 67, HUMANSVILLE 55
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