SEDALIA, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team is now tied for first place in the Region 16 standings after defeating the State Fair Community College Roadrunners 77-63 Wednesday night, Feb. 13, in Sedalia, Mo.
Both the Grizzlies (19-9) and the Roadrunners (19-7) are now 4-2 in region play. Also joining them at the top of the rankings is Moberly Area Community College of Moberly, Mo. The Greyhounds (21-6) defeated the Mineral Area College Cardinals 62-57 Wednesday night in Park Hills, Mo., to go to 4-2. The Cardinals (21-6) are fourth with a 4-3 record in region play.
At the bottom is Three Rivers College, Poplar Bluff, Mo., with an 0-7 record. The Raiders (13-13) will be the Grizzlies’ opponent Saturday, Feb. 16, in Missouri State-West Plains’ annual homecoming game. Tip-off is 7 p.m. at the West Plains Civic Center.
Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said Wednesday’s contest was “a good recovery game for us. We didn’t go to State Fair seeking revenge. We went to State Fair focused on executing and winning.”
The Grizzlies, who had lost soundly to the Roadrunners Jan. 22 in West Plains, took control of the game early, scoring the first two points of the contest, then answering the Roadrunners’ 3-pointer with one of their own to go up 5-3. They never trailed again after that point, leading 39-25 at halftime.
“We did a good job on the defensive end of knowing their personnel and executing the game plan,” Walker said. “We also controlled the boards on that end of the floor. We took a few bad shots throughout the game, but for the most part, we took shots after a few ball reversals and exploited the holes in their defense.”
Statistics show the Grizzlies hit 28 of their 67 shots from the field for 41.8 percent, five of 18 shots from 3-point range for 27.8 percent and 16 of 26 shots from the free throw line for 61.5 percent. They also collected 57 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and six steals while committing 11 turnovers.
Freshman guard Devaugntah Williams led the team in scoring with 21 points. He also had eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. He was followed by freshman guards Jon Tshibuy with 13 points, Desmond Buerge with 11 points and Arroyo Edwards with 10. Sophomore forward Keaton Jackson led the team in rebounds with 11. He also had 7 points and two blocks.
The Roadrunners hit 22 of 64 from the field for 34.4 percent, three of 15 from 3-point range for 20 percent and 16 of 24 from the free throw line for 66.7 percent. They also collected 37 rebounds, six assists, six blocks and four steals while committing nine turnovers. Leading scorers were Joe Thomasson with 25 points and Kenny Chery with 16 points.
“We can’t take anything away from State Fair. They’re an explosive team. They will be a very tough opponent if we have to play them again in the postseason,” Walker said.
The coach also said the Grizzlies must maintain their current mind set to finish out the season. “Even though we’ve been able to fight our way into a first-place tie, our approach has to continue to be the hunter and not the hunted,” Walker said. “Three Rivers is a proud program with a good coaching staff that’s going to fight to avoid going 0-8 in the region. We will have to be ready.”
Prior to the Grizzlies’ homecoming game Saturday, the varsity girls teams from Dexter and Republic High Schools will meet at 4 p.m. on the civic center arena floor for a game.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, visit the team’s website at http://wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb.htm or call the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7993.