POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Poor shooting in the first half pushed Advance into a deficit early, leading to the Hornets' ultimate loss in the Class 2, District 2 boys basketball championship Friday.
Advance, seeded No. 1, lost to No. 2 East Carter County 85-65 at the Black River Coliseum.
A combination of missed jumpers and five missed lay-ups early put the Hornets in a hole that they couldn't dig out of.
"We had trouble scoring in the first half," Advance coach Jim Hall said. "Shots just weren't falling. We couldn't make shots, and we couldn't finish lay-ups."
The Hornets (21-8) were down by five points before being stung by a second-quarter barrage of 3-pointers by the Redbirds.
East Carter (19-7) connected on five threes in the quarter, including three on consecutive trips down the floor that expanded an eight-point lead to 17 points by halftime. The Redbirds also used the free-throw line to their advantage in the first half, scoring on 16 of 18 free throws.
"They broke it open in the second quarter," Hall said. "That's when the game got away from us.
"They played nice defense, but we still got good shots. We just couldn't score. The ball wouldn't stay in the hole, it would go in and come out, it would circle around, but it just wouldn't stay in for us in the first half."
Advance came out of the locker room with a hotter hand in the second half but still could never make a run. East Carter slowly added to its lead, taking a 62-42 lead into the fourth quarter.
"We had a good season," Hall said. "I'm proud of the boys. They surprised a lot of people."
The Hornets went 16-4 since the seMissourian Christmas Tournament.
Advance was led by Jason Bahr, who scored 17 points. Jared Ritter added 15 while Zach Hudson contributed 11.
East Carter had five players in double figures: Trevor Douglas led with 18 points, Brandon Crook added 17, Tyler Stahl and David Reynolds each had 15, and Alan Wilder had 12.
Poplar Bluff sophomore expected to play today
There hasn't been this much interest in somebody's hips since Ricky Martin shook his bon-bons.
"His MRI was OK -- didn't show any major problems -- it looks like it's probably just a pull or strained muscle," Poplar Bluff coach John David Pattillo said of Tyler Hansbrough's right hip. "We'll just take it day to day and see how it goes."
Hansbrough was injured during the Mules' 59-54 win over Gateway Tech on Wednesday. The 6-foot-8 sophomore scored the first 12 points of the game for Poplar Bluff and had 18 before leaving midway through the third quarter.
But Poplar Bluff (25-3) prevailed without their leading scorer and will play McCluer (25-3) in today's Class 5 quarterfinal.
Tipoff is at 1:30 p.m. at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.