By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
No moment is ever too big for the Skyline Tigers.
Even the first final four game in 25 years. Even when so much else is going on, outside of basketball.
Skyline dominated from start to finish in a 70-51 victory over Oran in Friday night’s Class 2 boys’ Show-Me Showdown semifinals at Hammons Student Center in Springfield.
Skyline shot 57 percent from the field (21-for-37) and led by double digits most of the game. Skyline senior guard Dax Beem scored a game-high 24, while brother and sophomore Lawson Beem added 20 points.
All this from a program that hadn’t been to the final four since 1995.
“These kids have been unbelievable all year with that. They do not get nervous in the big moments,” said Skyline coach Tommy Egan. “They’ve been that way all year.”
The Tigers made it look easy.
Skyline led 17-5 after the first quarter and 46-29 entering the fourth.
“Everything was clicking for us,” Dax Beem said. “Everyone was playing as a team and doing their part. We just really worked together.”
Skyline will face Hartville in an all-417 state title game on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:20 p.m. at JQH Arena, with attendance limited to 150 fans per school.
Skyline has never won a state championship in boys’ basketball. The Tigers finished second in 1969 and 1995, third in 1993 and fourth in 1970.
“For us to go and represent Southwest Missouri along with Hartville, (it’s) an awesome thing,” Egan said. “Because the basketball here is really good.”
Oran cut Skyline’s lead to nine late in the third, but Skyline responded with back-to-back 3s from Dax Beem and a Kourt Cheek layup to close the quarter.
Sophomore Jaytin DeFreece, who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, admitted the Tigers (30-2 overall) did feel some pregame pressure in the locker room.
“It was a little bit of nerves at first, and then Coach (Egan) came in there and told us, ‘Calm down a little bit,’” DeFreece said. “I think he could tell we were a little bit uptight. He basically told us, ‘We’ve been in big games like this. Just go out and show it.’”
Skyline out-rebounded Oran 31-23 and limited Oran to 19-for-53 shooting from the field.
“Man, our guys locked in defensively tonight,” Egan said. “When we rebound defensively, we’re pretty good. And these guys flat-out fought and got after it. I’m so proud of them.”
The victory pushed Skyline’s winning streak to 23. The Tigers lost to Springfield Catholic on Dec. 13 and Kickapoo in the Blue and Gold Tournament a few weeks later.
Then, the Tigers found their groove.
“Right after the Blue and Gold, we beat St. Elizabeth (on Jan. 4) and went on a big winning streak,” said Skyline junior Bradyn Porter, who finished with nine points and 11 rebounds. “I think that’s where it all started for us – that St. Elizabeth game.”
Skyline 70, Oran 51
Oran 5 14 10 22 — 51
Skyline 17 13 16 24 — 70
Oran (26-6 overall) – Tyson Goodale 21, Ty Johnson 14, Langdon Scheeter 6, Todd Priggel 3, Dane Shands 3, Cooper Priggel 3, Sam Shoemaker 1
Skyline (30-2 overall) – Dax Beem 24, Lawson Beem 20, Jaytin DeFreece 11, Bradyn Porter 9, Kourt Cheek 4, Brylie Turner 2