By Josh Hall
Whether it be a state championship matchup, a pickup game in the drive way, or a charity event, coach Duane Hiler believes one mentality remains a constant.
“Competitors compete all the time,” Hiler, the head boys basketball coach at Mountain Grove and the coach for the area boys team at the 40th Annual Lions All-Star Classic.
Hiler’s group proved that point.
Trailing by 18 points at halftime, the area boys rallied down the stretch to claim an 89-81 win against the city boys on Saturday at Baptist Bible College.
“There’s a lot of pride in those kids, and they came out in the second half – they didn’t want to get beat by 20 in a game like this,” Hiler said. “Pride comes in, and that’s why those kids are here, because they do have a lot of pride. And they also have a heck of a lot of ability.”
The area boys, who hold a 23-16 all-time record against the city boys, trailed 27-13 after the first quarter and faced a 49-31 deficit at halftime.
That’s when the tides started to turn.
“Obviously the first half we didn’t come out very well and we were all just kind of mad about it,” said Treydon Rackley of Republic, who is signed to play basketball at College of the Ozarks. “We decided we weren’t going to lose, so we went out and played our butts off.”
The area boys outscored the city boys 36-9 in the third period and entered the fourth quarter with a 68-58 lead.
Jakob Partee, a Clever graduate that is signed to play at Southwest Baptist University, scored 10 of his 17 points in the third period to help lead the attack.
During half time, the area boys did not have a representative in the dunk contest, which was won by Greenwood’s Julius Walker. The area team was able to use that time to regroup.
“We were sitting there watching the dunk contest, and we were like, ‘you know what? We can do a lot better,’” Petree said. “When we’re down 20, the competitive spirit kicks in. We didn’t want to get blown out. At first we just wanted to have fun, but at the same time, we still wanted to win.”
In the end, both teams left the court with smiles on their faces after helping support a worthy cause.
The Lions All-star Classic benefits Saving Sight, a Lions program that offers several vision care programs, from cornea transplants to eyeglasses, for children who otherwise couldn’t afford them.
“It’s a great event,” said Landon Cornish the head coach for Parkview and the city boys team.
Rackley poured in a game-high 23 points, while Partee finished with 17. Deric Jones of Hartville added 16 and Dalton Hayes of Crane chipped in with 15 to lead the way for the area boys.
Roberto Galvin of Central led the city boys with 17 points. Walker finished with 15, while J.T. Brown of Parkview tallied 14 and Shahn Clark of Hillcrest added 10.
“It was a blast,” Partee said. “I was looking forward to it. I hadn’t played in a real game in a while, so to be able to come out here and play with these great players from the area that I’ve played against the last four years, and to play against the city guys, who I’ve watched and played against a few of them, it was a lot of fun.”
KEARNEY DOMINATES FOR AREA GIRLS
Branson graduate Amanda Kearney poured in a game-high 28 points to lead the area girls to a 62-32 win against the city girls.
The area girls now have a 24-12 all-time advantage in the series.
“I’ve played with most of the girls before, so we kind of knew how to play together and we were excited to play,” said Kearney, who also won the 3-point competition.
Kip Bough, Kearney’s former coach at Branson, and the head coach for the area girls wasn’t surprised by the results.
“That girl has spent a lot of time shooting, and I’ve seen her throughout the school year and summer shoot a lot, so I’m not overly surprised,” Bough said. “She’s a competitor.”
Taylor Fergen of Republic scored 12 points and Mikayla Putt of Ozark added 10 to lead the area, which held a 16-9 lead after the first quarter, 30-14 at the break and a 48-22 advantage entering the final period.
Emerson Russell of New Covenant led the city girls with 12 points. Kaitlyn Baird of Glendale chipped in with eight.
“I was honored when they called me to coach an all-star game for the benefit,” Bough said. “For so many years, you coach against these kids, it’s just nice to coach them or at least be on their bench and be on the same team.”
NOTE: Several players were asked to participate but declined due to scheduling conflicts.
1. Jared Ridder, Kickapoo
2. Abby Oliver, Strafford
3. Sarah Jordan, Rogersville
4. McKinsey Mountain, Skyline
5. Kelsey Winfrey, Lebanon
6. Garrett Kesterson, Fair Grove
7. Christian Bundy, Nixa
8. Ari Acuff, Kickapoo
9. Jordan Sanders, Kickapoo
10. Isaac Blakeslee, Kickapoo
11. Rayle Hejna, Walnut Grove
12. Meredith Sharp, Greenwood
13. Allyson Barrett, Republic
14. Brandon Emmert, Bolivar
15. Seth Viebrock, Nixa
16. Cameron Davis, Kickapoo
17. Hope Hefley, New Covenant