Liberal, MO. — The St. Mary’s Colgan boy’s basketball team opened up the first round of the Tony Dubray Classic with a convincing 53-32 win over Bronaugh Wednesday at Liberal High School.

The Panthers uncharacteristically used strong shooting from long range to build a sufficient 14-point lead in the first half against the Wildcats. The depth advantage for Colgan factored greatly in the Panthers being able to pull away from Bronaugh in the second 16 minutes of play.

It has been the norm for the Panthers to use their methodical offense to find high-percentage shots close to the basket. In the first half against the Wildcats, SMC knocked down four 3-pointers to help build a 22-8 lead heading into the intermission.

Connor VanBecelaere led the way with a pair of triples, both in the second quarter, while Dominic Piccini and Billy Dickey added one each.

VanBecelaere finished with nine points, all of which came on 3-pointers.

Josh Hayes finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds in the win.

Turnovers played a major role in the Panthers building the lead up over the first two quarters. Colgan forced Bronaugh into 15 turnovers in the first half, earning 11 steals as a team, according to unofficial stats provided by Trent Kling of ESPN 100.7 FM radio. The Panthers gave the ball away just five times while they established the first-half lead.

Colgan’s advantage of having a deep bench, which was monumental in pulling away late, was noticeable in the first half of the ball game, as SMC substituted 11 times. Bronaugh, however, did not use one substitution and played with their starters for all of the first 16 minutes of action.

That theme on the starters playing continued well into the second half. It wasn’t until the final minute of the third quarter when Myles Wyland checked into the ball game as the Wildcats’ first player off the bench to see action.

Neither team took the advantage in the first quarter as Colgan lead 7-6, but the Panthers' defense tightened and held the Wildcats to just two points in the second period.

SMC knocked down three of their long-range shots in the second quarter, scoring several times off of turnovers to take the momentum.

Colgan clearly had the fresh legs in the second half as they stretched their lead to 39-18, 21 points, on back-to-back 3-pointers from Simon Higginbotham and VanBecelaere at the end of the third quarter to firmly plant the game in their favor.

The Panthers finished the game by holding down the Wildcats on offense and maintaining their large lead all the way up until the final buzzer.

Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at and follow him on twitter at @LDsportswriter.