CHANUTE, Kan. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team will return home to host the Grizzly New Year’s Classic this weekend after suffering its second loss of the new year Wednesday evening, Jan. 2, in the Sonic Shoot-Out hosted by Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kan.
The Grizzlies, now 10-6, fell to the hosting Panthers 89-75 in the final day of the tournament.
“This game seesawed heavily in each direction,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “We got down early, but we didn’t panic. Our guys did a good job of staying the course. Because of that, we were able to spread them out, attack the basket and gain the lead before halftime.”
The Grizzlies fell behind early in the first period and were down 32-17 midway through the first half when they finally lit the offensive spark and went on a 23-6 run to finish the period with a 40-38 edge.
But the Panthers’ Jamie Batish took over the second half of the game, scoring 26 of his 32 points, which helped Neosho County outscore the Grizzlies 51-35 in the period to seal the win.
“In the second half, they (Neosho County) were almost unconscious from outside,” the coach continued. “We didn’t close out with our hands up as well as we should have, and they made us pay for that.”
As a team, the Grizzlies hit 23 of 61 shots from the field for 37.7 percent, seven of 24 3-point attempts for 29.2 percent and 23 of 33 free throws for 66.7 percent during the game. They also recorded 39 rebounds, including 16 offensive grabs, eight assists, 11 turnovers, and eight blocks.
Freshman guard Devaugntah Williams led the team in scoring with 23 points, followed by fellow freshmen guards Arroyo Edwards with 19 and Desmond Buerge with 17. Edwards also had eight rebounds, and Williams had seven.
The Panthers connected on 31 of 61 shots from the field for 50.8 percent, 13 of 22 3-pointers for 59.1 percent and 14 of 19 free throws for 73.7 percent. They also had 37 rebounds, including 10 offensive boards, 21 assists and seven turnovers. In addition to Batish’s 32 points, the Panthers’ scoreboard included 20 points from Jeremy Nolen and 13 points from Jake Stoppel.
The Grizzlies will try to get back on the winning track Friday and Saturday, Jan. 4 and 5, during the Grizzly New Year’s Classic. The Grizzlies will be joined in the event by Iowa Western Community College of Council Bluffs, Southern University of Shreveport, La., and Southeast Texas Prep of Houston, Texas, which is replacing original tournament competitor Christian Life Academy of Humble, Texas.
Iowa Western and Southeast Texas Prep will play the first game at 5 p.m. Friday, followed by the Grizzlies and Southern at 7. Saturday, Southern and Southeast Texas Prep will play at 5 p.m., and Iowa Western will meet the Grizzlies at 7.
“The best place to ‘get well’ is at home, and we have three games in a row coming up,” Walker said, referring to the two tournament games and the Jan. 8 contest against Volunteer State Community College of Gallatin, Tenn.
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.