The Ozark Tigers defeated the Camdenton Lakers, 61-54, in the opening round of the Blue Division in the 67th Blue & Gold Tournament on Wednesday. The seventh-seeded Tigers gave a lackluster performance but managed to fend off the upset-minded Lakers.
The game got off to a sluggish start as neither team could take charge. After the first quarter, the score was 14-9 in Ozark’s favor. The Tigers would try to open the game up in the second quarter, but 8 turnovers in the first half would slow down their attack. Camdenton could not take total advantage of the Tiger turnovers but still managed to keep within striking distance at the half, trailing 32-24.
Ozark senior Brett Krisik would have an impressive first half with 16 points and seven rebounds as Ozark would use their size advantage to dominate the boards.
Ozark jumped out to a 38-28 lead early in the second half and had the momentum.
Camdenton Coach Kenny Ash called a time out with 6:25 to go in the 3rd quarter to try and stop the Tigers’ run.
“I just told them that we’ve been in these situations before and to just settle down and relax,” said Ash. The Lakers responded to the timeout and cut the lead to 45-42 mid-way through the third quarter.
When Camdenton senior John Hyde received his third foul at the 5:19 mark of the third quarter, he stayed in the game instead of coming out. This sparked the Lakers and after three quarters the score was 50-44, still in Ozark’s favor, but the Lakers were coming on strong.
Midway through the fourth quarter the Lakers got within four, 50-46, causing Ozark Coach Steve Hunter to go to a 2-3 zone. Camdenton was forced to shoot outside and lose any inside game they had. The Lakers out-hustled the Tigers but just couldn’t get the big shots to fall, while Ozark managed to make key plays when they had to. Despite only making 50 percent of their free throws down the stretch in the 4th quarter, the Tigers managed to secure a precarious 61-54 win.
“It was nothing we did offensively to extend our lead, we didn’t make free throws down the stretch” said Hunter. “They just missed shots. That’s how we won.”
“We were right there,” said Ash. “They seemed to hit the big shots, and we didn’t get the big stops when we needed to, but that’s the way our season has gone so far. We competed and had a chance, but at the end of the day they made shots and we didn’t.”
“It was a very poor effort on our part,” said Hunter. “Camdenton out-hustled us, they got the loose balls and the hustle plays. Not much positive to say about what we just did, except that we won. We play another one like this tomorrow and we won’t play another game in this tournament.”
Camdenton 9 15 20 10 -54
Ozark 14 18 18 11 -61
Camdenton—John Hyde-22; Zach Brown-11; Tristan Starkey- 9; Jake Decker-7; Ryan Elliot-5
Ozark—Brett Krisik-22; Korbin Evans-15; Nick Cookinham-11; Jakob Neidig-3; Noah Nelson-3; Thomas Nelson-2; Tyler Clanton-2; Chase Pitchford-2; Heath Carmichael-1