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Relaxed Hornets bounce back to claim third place

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Advance beat West Platte 70-60 as Alex Steil scored 20 points.

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A day after looking shell-shocked in the opening quarter of the Class 2 semifinals, the Advance boys basketball team looked poised and calm as it played for third place Friday at Mizzou Arena.

The Hornets played the uptempo style they prefer in a 70-60 win over West Platte.

"I felt our kids played a lot better game today," Advance coach Joe Shoemaker said. "We didn't have those stars in our eyes like we did yesterday."

Added senior captain Daryl Wade: "We came out yesterday and we were kind of nervous. Came out today with nothing to lose, so there was no reason to be nervous."

The game was played at a frantic pace for nearly the entire game until West Platte was forced to foul in the final minute. Neither team shot bonus free throws in the opening half, and there was only one timeout called before halftime.

The opening half of Thursday's semifinal against Marionville featured a similar pace, but the Comets did all the scoring en route to a 39-22 lead.

On Friday, the Hornets ended the opening half tied at 32-32.

"We like a more uptempo style of game," Shoemaker said. "We have a good bench. They do a good job giving us energy. I think it was to our favor today."

Carrying the offensive load over the first 16 minutes of the game was junior Alex Steil, the Hornets' leading scorer. Steil, who averages 14.7 points per game, was held scoreless in the semifinal after attempting just two shots. By the half Friday, Steil had 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

"I was nervous yesterday; I didn't shoot the ball much," Steil said. "I wasn't as nervous today. I shot the ball more and got open."

Advance began to pull away in the third quarter, opening a 51-43 lead heading into the final period. A 3-pointer by Steil in the opening minute of the fourth quarter expanded Advance's lead to a game-high 11 points at 54-43, but West Platte would get back in the game thanks to several Hornets turnovers.

The Bluejays used a 7-0 run to get within 57-55 with less than 4 minutes remaining. Advance responded and got the lead back to seven, but a 3-pointer from Ross Rennie with 2:10 remaining cut the lead back to 62-60.

"At that point we called a timeout and told our guys to relax a bit," Shoemaker said.

Advance reserve Jordan Seabaugh was fouled on the Hornets' next possession and sank both free throws to make it a two-possession game at 64-60.

While Advance's rebounding kept West Platte to one-shot possessions, Bluejays sophomore Erick Roe missed several 3-pointers down the stretch.

"We talked about rebounding at halftime," Shoemaker said. "That's one of the things we stress holding them one shot and out. I didn't think we did a good job of that in the first half."

The Hornets finished with a 37-21 rebounding edge. James Masters led the Hornets with 11 rebounds, Jeremy Limbaugh had eight and Trenton Moses added six.

Those rebounds helped the Hornets overcome 19 turnovers. West Platte had just nine turnovers.

Advance hit eight straight free throws in the final two minutes to clinch the win. This was the Hornets' first top-four finish since winning the state title in 1975.

"We came here with the intention of winning a state championship, like everyone does," Shoemaker said. "I told the guys [Thursday] that wasn't possible, but we can still win third. I think it's a great testament of their character."

Steil finished with a team-high 20 points, Masters had 15 and Wade added 11. The Hornets will lose three senior starters in Wade, Limbaugh and Masters, but Steil and Moses are expected to return from the starting lineup.

"It's great for these guys to get the experience up here," Shoemaker said. "You can't simulate this. Hopefully, it will help."

As they have throughout the season, the Hornets were once again backed by a sea of orange throughout Mizzou Arena, including the student section on the offensive end of the court in the second half.

"They play a big role," Limbaugh said. "The adrenaline gets pumping when you get a layin, and that makes you play harder on defense."

Added Wade: "They're our sixth man on the floor. They've followed us all season."

Advance 70, West Platte 60

West Platte17151117--60

WEST PLATTE (60) -- Eric Humes 6, Ross Rennie 15, Erick Roe 22, D.J. Hall 10, Kyle Elder 7. FG 19, FT 19-25, F 17 (3-pointers: Roe 2, Rennie 1. Fouled out: none)

ADVANCE (70) -- Jeremy Limbaugh 7, Daryl Wade 11, Alex Steil 20, James Masters 15, Trenton Moses 6, Rusty Hendricks 2, Jordan Seabaugh 5, Tyler Wade 4. FG 26, FT 13-18, F 15 (3-pointers: Steil 2, Seabaugh 1, Limbaugh 1, Wade 1. Fouled out: none)

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