Size and experience played huge roles Saturday night as the top-seeded Cole Camp Bluebirds unseated four-time defending champion Sacred Heart 59-49 in the title game of the W-K Kaysinger Conference Boys Basketball Tournament at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center.
The Bluebirds’ starting five featured four players who stood 6-foot-1 or taller and had four seniors and a junior to open the game.
Their size and experience took a toll on the Gremlins, decisively winning the battle on the glass, altered or hurried many Sacred Heart shots.
The Bluebirds’ Tanner Oelrichs, a 6-foot-5 junior, led Cole Camp with 17 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked four shots. Oelrichs scored seven of his points in the fourth quarter as Cole Camp wore down the young, tiring Gremlins.
Gremlin coach Steve Goodwin has put a young squad — a freshman, three sophomores and a junior — in Saturday night’s starting five, after graduating his entire starting five from last year’s team.
Cole Camp won its first Kaysinger Tournament championship since the 2007-2008 season and it was Coach Tom Ward’s third Kaysinger tourney title in his 12 years at the school. It was Cole Camp’s second win over Sacred Heart this season.
The Bluebirds, 21-3, jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead on a trey by Brendan Rusk and a two by Gunner Williams.
It took the Gremlins, 18-4, more than three minutes before Clint Spangler scored but Cole Camp’s Michael Brockman and Timothy Ward each drilled a trey and Cole Camp opened up an 11-2 lead.
Two free throws by Chase Lyles, a trey by Garrett Strange and a putback by Malik Hackett got the Gremlins within 11-9.
Cole Camp, with its loud, raucous student cheering section threatening to break the sound barrier, led 12-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Hackett, who led all scorers with 20 points, drove right down the lane for a finger-roll bucket to get Sacred Heart within 12-11 at the start of the second quarter, but Ward and
Williams answered for the Bluebirds and Zach Heimsoth made two free throws to give Cole Camp an 18-13 lead.
The free throw line was not kind to either team as Cole Camp made 14 of 26 and Sacred Heart made nine of 12 but shot just one free throw in the fourth quarter.
Oelrichs made two buckets to stretch Cole Camp’s lead to 22-15 but Hackett stepped up and drilled a trey from the top of the key to close the gap to 22-18.
Brockman and Ward scored back-to-back and it was 26-18 with the clock winding down in the first half.
A trey by Lyles and a basket by Strange closed the margin to 26-23 at the half.
Rusk scored off the second-half tip to put Cole Camp up 28-23 but Lyles made two free throws to make it 28-25.
Sacred Heart got a pair of steals in the second quarter after switching to a press and half-court trap, but the press and trap were ineffective as Cole Camp got through it frequently in the second half.
Oelrichs and Rusk led an 8-2 Cole Camp run with two buckets each to make it 38-30. The Bluebirds led 38-33 after three quarters.
Brockman canned a trey from the left wing to start the fourth quarter, but Hackett came back with a layup to make it 41-35. Strange nailed a trey to make it 41-38.
The Gremlins were wearing down as Lyles and Clint Spangler fouled out in the fourth quarter. Gremlin shots were falling short and Cole Camp got a lot of fast-break opportunities out of it.
Rusk scored four straight points and Heimsoth got a bucket to give Cole Camp a 46-38 lead.
Cole Camp led by as many as 11 at 49-38 and Sacred Heart got no closer than 51-45 on a basket by Clint Spangler.
Oelrichs led Cole Camp with 17 points. Ward added 12 and Rusk 10. Hackett had a game-high 20 for Sacred Heart and Strange had 12.
In other final-round boys’ games Saturday, Northwest beat Windsor 49-32 for the consolation title and Tipton downed Green Ridge 46-36 in the third-place game.
Cortlen Austin led Northwest, 9-15, with 22 points, 21 in the second half. Quincy Wicker added nine. Aaron Garoutte led Windsor with 11.
Wade Wood led Tipton with 22 points and Ethan Koechner added 19. Austin Story led Green Ridge, 14-9, with 21 points and Axton Harding added 14. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.