LIBERAL, Mo. — The St. Mary’s Colgan basketball teams continued to dominate the 44th annual Tony Dubray Classic, with both teams one win away from being crowned champions after a pair of wins in the semifinals on Thursday.
SMC GIRLS KNOCK OFF NO. 1 LOCKWOOD
The cinderella story continues for St. Mary’s Colgan girls basketball, which punched its ticket to the championship round after upsetting No. 1-seeded Lockwood 57-55 on Thursday in the Tony Dubray Classic.
Despite being ranked as the fifth seed in the bracket, the Panthers proved to be the superior team by leading throughout the majority of the contest,holding off the Tigers in the closing minutes to stay alive in the tournament.
“I thought it was a really good team effort,” SMC head coach Abby Farabi said. “I thought we came out of the gate early and got a good lead and got some confidence.”
Colgan appeared to be in full control — heading into final eight minutes holding a 46-36 advantage — but Lockwood ratcheted up the defensive intensity and forced the Panthers into turnovers.
The extra possessions spurred a 10-2 run by the Lions in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to bring them to within two points of the lead at 48-46.
Aubri Piccini broke the Panther’s scoring drought by knocking down three free throws, before Allie Evans hit a pair of her own from the charity stripe and Emily Paterni added one more from the line to pad the lead to 54-46.
The Lions closed out the final minutes of regulation with a 7-2 run, but it was too late and the Panthers held on for the narrow victory.
“I felt like we weathered their runs pretty well until the end,” Farabi said. “We should have put them away, but we missed some free throws. We did a good job though of not giving up. I just thought we did a good job of shutting down the inside game.”
Prior to the fourth-quarter drama, the Panthers held their own against a talented Lions team.
Lockwood drew first blood with a quick two points of the game, but the Panthers answered back with a mid-range jumper by Cathy Farmer, before going up 6-2 with two points apiece from Evans and Paterni.
The six-unanswered points began with a mid-range jumper by Farmer and included two points apiece from Evans and Paterni.
Lockwood tied the game up at 6-all by scoring back-to-back baskets, but two consecutive shots by Piccini and Farmer gave the Panthers back the lead at 12-6.
Both teams matched each other point for point in the final three minutes of the first quarter, before Lockwood hit a jump shot just before the buzzer to cut the gap to 16-12.
Colgan hit the scoreboard first to begin the second quarter thanks to corner 3-pointer by Farmer, which sparked a 7-0 run to cushion the Panther’s lead to 23-16.
The Panthers pushed the lead to double digits with just under two minutes to play on a jumper by Evans to go up 31-21, but again the Lions clawed back by scoring seven consecutive points to narrow the deficit to 31-28.
With just a seconds left on the board, Farmer gave the Panthers back the momentum with a basket at the horn, which was the beginning 10-2 run going into the third quarter to increase the lead 41-30.
Lockwood managed to trim the deficit by one to end the third quarter down 46-36, before going on to lose the game.
“Once again, Cathy Farmer had a great game for us offensively, but so did Emily Paterni and my other three starters,” Farabi said. “Everybody contributed in some way. We have to doa better job of minimizing our turnovers, but all in all, I thought it was a great game for us. We are excited for another opportunity to play in the championship after getting knocked out early last year. I was really proud of our heart and effort tonight.”
PANTHER BOYS ROUT THOMAS JEFFERSON
With the girls picking up the win earlier in the day, the Colgan boys team followed it up with a 59-27 win against Thomas Jefferson in the final game of the day to advance to the championship round of the Tony Dubray Classic.
The Panthers were clicking on all cylinders in the win, as they set the tone early with a large, first-half lead, before outscoring Thomas Jefferson 30-10 in the second half to seal the victory.
SMC trailed for all of 15 seconds in the game, battling back from a five consecutive points from Thomas Jefferson to score seven unanswered points — three of which coming from Simon Higginbotham — to regain the lead at 11-5.
A 3-pointer by Higginbotham and a layup by Austin Lindsey in the closing seconds of the opening quarter to take an 18-9 lead going into the second quarter.
Colgan began to pull away in the second quarter, after an 11-1 run increased to the lead to 29-13 with just over two minutes left in the first half.
The run included five points by Simon Higginbotham, four points by Alex Brown and two points from Aaron Higginbotham.
SMC held a 29-17 heading into the locker room at halftime, and immediately ended all thoughts of a Thomas Jefferson comeback by starting the third quarter with a 12-2 run — which included two points apiece from Simon Higginbotham, Brown, Josh Hays, Lindsey, Aaron Higginbotham and Piccini — to pad the lead to 41-19.
Matthew Lomshek got into the mix to begin the fourth quarter, scoring the first three points of the final eight minutes.
The Panthers closed out the game with a 9-1 run, coasting to the easy win.
Simon Higginbotham was the offensive catalyst for the Panthers, with 19 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal.
The SMC boys take on Galena in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The SMC girls take on the winner of Bronaugh/Liberal in the championship game at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
-- Jordan Buckamneer is a sports reporter of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @jbuckamneer.