Rogersville rode a hot start from behind the 3-point arc in the the championship game of its own tournament on Saturday and held off the Ozark Tigers en route to a 64-58 win.
Rogersville (9-7) won its fifth consecutive game and followed an upset of the state's No. 2 ranked team in Class 4, Republic, by knocking down five 3-pointers in the first quarter and eight in the first half as the Wildcats took a 31-18 lead to the break.
Ozark made a run in the second half and were within two points (60-58) with 34.7 seconds remaining in the game after a basket in the paint by Tyler Clanton. But Rogersville was nails at the free throw line down the stretch, hitting all six of its attempts in the closing minute of play to close out the game.
Freshman Marcus Gorman followed Clanton's basket with a pair of free throws with 22 seconds remaining to give Rogersville a four-point lead and Ozark missed a pair of shots at its offensive end to close put the game.
With 7.6 seconds remaining, junior Corbin Medley hit a pair of free throws for the 64-58 final.
Three Rogersville players — Gorman, Medley and Aaron Freeman — knocked down three 3-pointers and Medley finished with 16 points to lead the Wildcats.
Rogersville was 5-7 after opening the new year 1-3 against Central Ozark Conference foes (the Wildcats defeated Ozark and lost to Branson, Marshfield and Webb City). But since then, Rogersville has found its stride, starting with a win over Cape Girardeau Central (55-48) at the Laker Shootout. Rogersville grinded out a hard fought win over Glendale (44-41) to open the Rogersville Tournament and Republic (47-45) in the semifinals.
"We're not the biggest team. so we've had to do a lot of defensive work and get stronger on defense, which we have," Marcus Gorman said. "I don't even know what to say right now, I'm pretty excited.
"We just had to play good defense and whenever we shoot good everything is a lot better."
Rogersville head coach Rod Gorman said a big part of the Wildcats success during its run has been at the defensive end where they are allowing just 48 points during the winning streak.
"We found some offensive flow and we got tougher defensively," Rogersville head coach Rod Gorman said. "We knew at the Blue and Gold time that we had to get better in those two areas and we are playing with a lot of confidence and making a lot of shots.
"When you shoot the ball, you are never going to shoot it well all the time, but we have good shooters and we can make 3-pointers and free throws and we can get on a roll and have one or two guys make one and other guys will make one."
On Saturday, Ozark got a game-high 17 points from senior Tyler Clanton and 13 points (11 in the second half) from senior Brett Krisik. Ozark head coach Steve Hunter said the Tigers made hay in the paint in the second half. The Tigers opened the fourth quarter by scoring on each of its first five possessions during an 11-2 run, much of which came either in the paint or at the free throw line.
"The big thing is we were 1-for-10 from the (3-point) ark and we settled for outside shots in the first half," Hunter said. "And the second half we went inside which is where we should have been in the first place."
Ozark (9-8) entered the Rogersville tournament having lost four straight, including losses to two teams who have been ranked No. 1 in Missouri Class 5. The Tigers losing streak began with a close loss in the championship game of the Blue and Gold Tournament to Nixa, the state's No. 1 ranked team until a knee injury sidelined senior Jalen Norman at the Tournament of Champions.
And, the Tigers fell to Hazelwood Central at the Laker Shootout. Hazelwood Central has since climbed to the top of the Class 5 rankings.
The Tigers opened the Rogersville tournament with a convincing 67-36 win over Camdenton, then ran away from Strafford, 69-39, a team the Tigers narrowly defeated at the Blue and Gold.
"We played two great games and we beat two teams by 30 this week and we haven’t done that all year long so I’m not concerned," Hunter said. "They are playing harder and more defense and making shots and once you get confidence and playing hard you get the results.
"This time of year if we had lost two and tanked it I would be concerned but I'm very pleased."
ROGERSVILLE 64, OZARK 58
Ozark 13 5 17 23 — 58
Rogersville 17 14 16 17 — 64
Ozark — Tyler Clanton 12, Jakob Neidig 8, Korbin Evans 4, Heath Carmichael 11, Brett Krisik 13, Nick Cookinham 3.
Rogersville — Marcus Gorman 13, Aaron Freeman 15, Justus Boever 7, Brock Gipson 3, Corbin Medley 16, Ben Vinyard 4, Bailey Jenkins 4.