WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team added two more victories to their record after winning both of their games in the Grizzly Holiday Classic tournament this past weekend at the West Plains Civic Center.
The Grizzlies, now 9-4, defeated Mid-South Community College, West Memphis, Ark., 79-48 Friday night, Dec. 9, and Redlands Community College, El Reno, Okla., 80-52 Saturday, Dec. 10. In addition, sophomores Marin Petric was named the tournament’s MVP and Gage Wooten earned all-tournament honors.
“It was nice to have two young men make the all-classic team,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “Gage was pretty solid both nights, and Marin was our second leading scorer in both games. On top of his scoring, Marin had 11 assists to five turnovers and went nine of 11 from the field for the weekend. He was the epitome of high percentage.”
Petric was one of two Grizzlies scoring in double figures against Mid-South Friday night. Freshman Kervin Rameau led the team with 18 points, followed by Petric with 11. Petric also had five of his 11 assists in this contest.
“We felt like this game was a trap from the start,” Walker said. “We were coming off the Coffeyville Tournament and then a very intense game at Independence. We were due for a lapse, but we just played well enough to win.
“Mid-South ran their offense very well, and they played very hard,” he continued. “We did not play well, and they had a lot to do with that. But they hurt themselves by missing some good looks early, and we were able to take advantage of that. We essentially just made a few runs that got us the separation we needed to win the game.”
Overall, the Grizzlies shot 33 of 60 from the field for 55 percent, four of nine from 3-point range for 44 percent and nine of 16 free throws for 60 percent. They also had 18 offensive and 28 defensive rebounds.
“We did share the ball pretty well, and everyone scored in the game,” Walker said. “That was exciting to see, along with again getting 18 offensive rebounds.”
Mid-South shot 14 of 40 from the field for 35 percent, seven of 18 from 3-point range for 39 percent and 13 of 15 free throws for 87 percent. The team also had three offensive and 16 defensive rebounds. Travail Lee was Mid-South’s leading scorer in the game with 15 points. He also earned all-tournament team honors.
“The Redlands game was a nice surprise because of how physically talented they are,” Walker said of Saturday’s game. “They handled Arkansas Baptist (86-71) the night before, and they had some guys who created some tough match-ups for us. Case in point, Ronquis Lewis is a guard, and all six of his rebounds were offensive. He really hurt us there.
“They were a little sporadic in that they changed how they were guarding ball screens, and then they tried to start trapping us in the second half. We really did a good job of attacking the basket and taking advantage of what they gave us. We shot a great percentage overall and from the three,” Walker added.
The Grizzlies hit 27 of 53 attempts from the field for 51 percent and six of 12 3-pointers for 50 percent. From the free throw line, they were 20 of 30 for 67 percent. The team also recorded 13 offensive and 26 defensive rebounds and collected 14 assists. Wooten led the team in scoring with 18 points, followed by Petric with 14 and sophomore Farbod Farman with 10.
“We really concentrate on crashing the offensive glass to steal more possessions, and we did a good job of that in this game,” Walker said, pointing out the Grizzlies collected 33 percent of their missed shots.
Redlands shot 19 of 52 from the field for 37 percent, two of 15 3-pointers for 13 percent and 12 of 18 free throws for 67 percent. Redlands also had nine offensive and 14 defensive rebounds. Joey Williamson, who also received all-tournament honors, led the team in scoring with 12 points, followed by Lewis with 11.
“This was not a perfect game by any means,” Walker said. “In the first half, our defense looked a little better than it was because they missed a few shots, but they were getting into the lane easier than we would like. Our defense was a lot better in the second half.
“Again, the final margin was a surprise,” the coach added. “Our guards did a good job of waiting on their screens, and our big guys did a good job of rolling hard to the basket most of the game. That allowed us to score easier, even when they started switching the ball screens.”
In addition to the Grizzlies’ games at 7 p.m. each day, games were played at 5 p.m. In Friday’s 5 p.m. contest, Redlands defeated Arkansas Baptist College, Little Rock, 86-71. Saturday, Arkansas Baptist defeated Mid-South 84-81. Arkansas Baptist’s Bryan Tardy was selected to round out the all-tournament team.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect this weekend, simply because we’ve had so many games in a row against high quality Division I opponents,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said of this past weekend’s action. “Playing a tournament right before finals week is always risky, but I was proud of how our team focused on what needed to be done, especially against Redlands.”
The Grizzlies will be able to focus on finals this week before turning their attention to their next opponent, Indian Hills Community College, whom they will play at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 20 in Ottumwa, Iowa. They will close out the calendar year Dec. 30 and 31 in Chanute, Kan., at the Sonic Shoot-Out hosted by Neosho County Community College.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, including complete game statistics, visit the team’s website at http://www.wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb.htm or call the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7993.