With their shiny black warm-ups and uniforms, the Russellville Indians took to the court for the championship game of the 18th Annual Otterville Holiday Classic Saturday night. The Indians were full of confidence, swagger and you might say arrogance as they took on the tournament host, the Otterville Eagles.
Previously undefeated Russellville, 8-1, made three of their first four three-point shots in the first quarter to build an 11-5 lead. Russellville made 4 of 5 from beyond the arc in the first quarter but the Eagles crept within 14-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Eagle Coach Jon Tester had a counter attack in mind, to extend his matchup zone to slow down the Indians’ perimeter attack and the Eagles rallied from behind to scalp the Indians 62-59 to capture the first-place trophy.
Senior guard Ryan Benny, the Most Valuable Player in the tournament, scored eight of his team-high 25 with a trey in the first quarter and 6-foot-4 forward Jake Gaskell scored two but it was just the beginning for the Eagles’ post player.
Before the game ended, Gaskell had muscled and pushed his way along the baseline for 15 points. He earned them, working his way past the bigger and quicker Indians’ inside players.
Brendan Jackson’s first of nine three pointers in the game, gave Russellville a 17-11 lead.
Jackson finished with a tournament record nine treys and a game-high 38 points.
Jackson had two treys and five points in the second quarter but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles took a 28-25 lead into the half.
Berry scored the first six points for the Eagles in the second quarter and Gaskell scored, was fouled and made the free throw to give Otterville its first lead at 19-17.
Berry made two more free throws to pad the Eagle lead to 21-17.
Jackson threw down his third trey to get Russellville within 21-20.
Benny’s three-point play made it 24-20. Gaskell scored twice and Benny made two more charity tosses to give the Eagles a 28-25 lead.
While the Indians made four treys in the first quarter, they added three more in the second but the Eagles made them work a lot harder for them instead of giving them wide open looks.
For the game, Russellville made 11 of 23 shots from three-point land.
Russellville went on a 5-0 to lead 30-25 early in the third, but Otterville came back to tie it 31-31 on a trey by Josh Algren.
Otterville stepped on the gas. Devin Rockett scored back-to-back buckets, Gaskell muscled his way underneath and scored and Benny scored as Otterville opened up a 39-31 lead.
The Eagles, 8-3 on the season, led 39-34 after three quarters.
Benny, Gaskell and Rockett helped Otterville on a 6-0 run to start the fourth as Otterville opened up its biggest lead at 45-34.
When Russellville closed the gap to 58-53 late in the game, Rockett hit two huge buckets and it was 62-53.
Teams that rely on the 3 pointer, often die on the three pointer. Russellville died on the trey down the stretch.
Benny, the tourney’s MVP, led Otterville with 25. Gaskell had 15 and Rockett 12.
Jackson, who led all scorers with 38 points and nine treys, was named to the All Tournament Team.
In other boys final round games Saturday, Northwest beat Slater 49-31 to win the consolation trophy and Green Ridge beat Tuscumbia 71-68 in the third-place game.
For Northwest, Cortlen Austin scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half and pulled down 13 rebounds. He was named to the All Tournament Team. Andrew Underwood added 12 points. Truman Leicher had eight rebounds.
Axton Harding and Justin McCarthy led Green Ridge with 17 points each. Hayden Doane added 11, Connor Dillon 10, All Tournament Team selection Austin Story eight. Harding had 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Ben Scotten had seven rebounds and Tom Dove six. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.