The Class 4 West Plains boys knocked off Class 2 Crane in the Blue Bracket quarterfinals on Friday and 72-56 on the strength of their three-point shooting.
“Any time a team makes 10-plus threes in a game it is going to be tough to win. They almost outscored us from the three-point line for the entire game,” Crane head coach Dale Lamberth said.
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Despite the loss, Crane hung with the Zizzers through the first quarter as the Pirates trailed by just one point at 20-19.
West Plains head coach Kevin Smith made an adjustment in between quarters to get his team going.
“I didn’t think we were playing very well and I have to give credit to Crane for that,” Smith said. “We wanted to attack them more and get to the paint and that helped us shoot it a little better because it opened it up and we kicked it back.”
West Plains responded the call of Smith and took a 36-29 lead at the break and then got the lead out to 11 points at 54-43 with just 60 seconds left in the third quarter.
Crane then seized momentum with a quick two and a long three by Jake Sowell to cut West Plains’ lead to 54-48 with 10 seconds left in the third frame.
The Zizzers would respond with a deep, momentum-crushing three from Justin Davis at the top of the key as time expired.
“I called that from the side. I knew what we were going to do,” Smith said. “He just happened to be in that hole. I wanted for that to be a breaking point for us (with) a big shot going into the fourth quarter. It worked out for us.”
The three was one of only two in the second half for West Plains, but it did the trick as the Zizzers finished the game with 11 3-pointers and a double-digit win.
“It just kind of happened making our shots (against) their zone,” said. “It was how we ran our offense and that was always open so we took those shots.”
Crane’s bright spot was senior Cole Walden as he finished with a game-high and season-high 18 points for the Pirates.
“That is a season-high, and maybe a career-high. He came ready to play today,” Lamberth said. “If we can get him to continue the rest of the season on that stretch we are going to be a tough team.”
Lamberth hopes his team takes some lessons from the loss as well.
“I hope we learn that we have to compete. We have to get tougher mentally and physically tougher,” Lamberth said. “I hope we learn that you have to play 32 minutes. We have to get over the hump of playing when we want and we have to be a more consistent team.”
Davis led the scoring for West Plains with 15 points, all of them coming from behind the arc.
The Zizzers now advance to the semifinals to play Nixa at 4 PM tomorrow at Hammons Student Center.