Posted: Saturday, 05 January 2013 12:42AM

Fair Grove wins conference opener by 30

Stockton, Mo. (For  -- In the first Mid-Lakes Conference game of the year for both teams, the Fair Grove Eagles showed the Stockton Tigers why they should be considered one of the top contenders for the league title, with a 71-41 turbo-clock victory at the SHS gym.

Fair Grove scored the first ten points in a row at the start, and expanded that lead to 23-6 by the end of the first quarter.  The Eagles’ advantages in size, speed, and strength were evident throughout the contest; but perhaps most telling is how well they took care of the basketball—FGHS only allowed five turnovers in the game.

Deric Link, a 6-foot-4 senior, led the way with 23 points, scoring from all over the floor.

“Coach (Tim Brown) has a lot of confidence in me,” said Linc, “and he told me before the season started that I needed to mix up my game a little more. If I’m missing more threes, I’ve got to get inside and try to get to the free throw line.”

Michael Thomas, a 6-0 senior, was right behind with 18 points while 6-3 junior Jayden Happel had 14.

Brown was impressed with the teamwork exhibited by his ballclub.

“I think sometimes when you get kids to run down the floor and play fast on offense, it makes them get in a stance and try a little harder on defense,” said Brown.  “It gets the ‘sleepies’ out of their eyes, and I was real proud with their effort.”

Linc echoed that sentiment:  “We all showed passion, even our bench was key. When we had three people in foul trouble in the first half, we had three guys off the bench come in and give us good minutes and play hard.  We didn’t have a dropoff when we went to the bench.”

“We wanted to take away the paint, but they started hitting threes,” lamented Stockton coach Mike Kenney, who saw the Eagles can 6 of 18 from downtown.  “And when you come out and get them, that puts us in some tough matchups.”

For Stockton, 6-3 senior Michael Coots was the only player in double figures with 13 points.

“Our kids are working hard.  The balls just aren’t dropping,” said Kenney.  “We’re 3-6, but we’ve done some good things defensively.  Now tonight we gave up 71, but we got into an up-and-down game that we didn’t want to do.”

Fair Grove evened its overall record at 7-7 while moving to 1-0 in the MLC.  The Eagles visit Ash Grove on Tuesday.

“We’re excited; it’s the Mid-Lakes Conference.  It’s what we prepare for,” said Brown.

Stockton dropped to 3-6, 0-1.  The Tigers face third-seeded Macks Creek on Monday in the first round of the Skyline Tournament.

“You know, they’re 8-2 and they’re a tough matchup,” Kenney said of the Pirates.

Fair Grove 23 17 20 11—71
Stockton      6 16 11   8—41

Fair Grove:  Deric Link 23, Michael Thomas 18, Jayden Happel 14, Jacob Maggard 7, Mason Kesterson 4, Brock Derrick 2, Talon Bates 1.
Stockton:  Michael Coots 13, Colby Walker 9, Ryan Pate 7, Tyler Heskett 3, Grant Kenney 3, Alex Wheeler 2, Tanner Collins 2, Sawyer Garrett 2.


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