Cubs seek return to Class 1 final four

Saturday, March 12, 2005

In three previous trips to the Class 1 state quarterfinal round, the Bell City boys basketball team is 3-0.

Bell City will try to continue its quarterfinals success today at the West Plains Civic Center. The defending Class 1 state champion Cubs (20-9) will face Eminence (17-13) at 2:45 p.m.

Bell City has won two of the past three state championships, with both trips going through West Plains.

"We feel like whoever is going to win it has to come through us," Bell City coach David Heeb said, "and we're a tough out."

Playing with a young, untested squad, the Cubs have managed to continue their postseason success. Bell City has only one senior on its roster, A.J. Henry, who has played sparingly this season while being treated for cancer. Much of the rest of Bell City's roster played only supporting roles on last year's state title team. Jeff Liggins is the only returning starter.

The Cubs are led in scoring by freshman D.D. Gillespie, who averages more than 14 points a game. Freshman Nick Niemczyk also has been a scoring threat for the Cubs, and freshmen Phillip Gross and Marty Dames have played key roles as well. Along with the four freshmen, sophomore Austin Segers has been a contributor during Bell City's playoff run.

"We've had so many injuries. We've only got five older kids that get minutes, and three are at less than 50 percent right now," Heeb said. "We have to have production from them."

The Cubs will have to improve their free-throw shooting to earn their third trip to the final four in four years. Bell City has made 31 of 58 free throws in the last two games. Bell City hit 13 of 23 free throw attempts in the second half of the sectional victory against Scott County, including only 7 of 17 in the fourth quarter.

Heeb said he was pleased with his team's ability to get to the line against the Braves, but he hopes his players can relax and start making some of those shots.

"It's going to be hard to keep winning games if we don't hit free throws," Heeb said.

The Cubs seem to find a way to win in the postseason, and the team has some extra motivation and inspiration with Henry's battle with cancer.

"We're glad to still be playing," Heeb said, "and just to keep on trying to do this thing for A.J."

Delta seeks return

The Delta girls basketball team bids for its second trip to the Class 1 final four in three years in today's quarterfinal at West Plains.

The Bobcats (21-5) will face Chadwick (24-4) at 1 p.m.

Chadwick is looking for its second straight trip to the state final four after defeating Scott County in the quarterfinals last season. Delta last made the final four in 2003, when it finished fourth.

"Chadwick's tough," Delta coach Randy White said. "They have two 6-foot post players and an all-state guard that's a senior."

Shea Smith, a sophomore guard, leads Delta's scoring attack. Smith finished with 18 points in Tuesday's sectional win against Scott County. The Bobcats are a relatively young squad, with Sarah Cook the only senior starter.

New ground for St. Vincent

The St. Vincent boys basketball program, which made its only other postseason appearance with a sectional loss in 1987, will bid for its first final four appearance in tonight's Class 2 quarterfinal game.

The Indians (21-6), featuring many of the same players who led the football team to its state championship in November, play South Pemiscot (23-6) at Park Hills Central at 8:15.

St. Vincent is 18-2 in its last 20 games since players such as Alex Armbruster (18.7 points per game), Jacob DeWilde (10.9 ppg), Waylon Richardet (10.7 ppg) and Danny Rellergert (10.6 ppg) made the transition from football to basketball.

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