(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
Hornets coach Andrew Halford credited a second-quarter switch to full-court pressure as helping turn the tide in his team's favor.
The eighth-seeded Hornets took control during the second period and held off the ninth-seeded Blue Jays 58-50 in the opening round of the 66th annual Southeast Missourian Christmas tournament.
Advance (6-1) plays top-seeded, two-time defending champion Scott County Central in today's 4:30 p.m. quarterfinal. Oak Ridge (6-2) takes on No. 16 seed Woodland at 1:30 p.m. in a consolation quarterfinal.
"I'm ready to play Scott County Central," Advance senior guard Grant Gray said. "They're a great team and we've got to come prepared. We can't come out slow against them."
Advance scored the opening basket of the second period and never trailed again.
"We had a real slow start," said Halford, whose squad was missing one starter due to injury and saw another starter play limited minutes due to injury. "We came out half-court [defense], then we picked up full and that pressure seemed to get them out of control."
The teams were deadlocked at 16-16 when Advance scored 12 straight points, six coming after Oak Ridge turnovers.
"We started rotating our defense and got some steals," Gray said.
Oak Ridge faced an uphill climb the rest of the way after falling behind by 12 points.
The Blue Jays, trailing 31-23 at halftime, got within 34-28 early in the third quarter before Advance opened its biggest lead at 48-31.
It was 48-33 entering the fourth quarter. The Blue Jays cut the deficit to five points twice, but turnovers foiled their chances of getting closer.
"We had a horrible week of practice and it showed tonight," Oak Ridge coach Adam Stoneking said. "I don't think we were ready to play."
Gray scored a game-high 19 points, 18 coming over the final three quarters. He made three 3-pointers and hit 3 of 4 free throws in the final 40 seconds to ice the victory.
"My shot's been a little rough all year. I'm trying to get it back," Gray said. "It was better tonight."
Advance senior guard John Middleton joined Gray in double figures with 11 points.
Freshman forward Ryan Below was impressive in leading Oak Ridge with 13 points. He helped fuel the Blue Jays' comeback with 10 fourth-quarter points.
Senior wing Brett Thomas and senior guard Caleb Elam both added 10 points for Oak Ridge.
Thomas, Oak Ridge's top player, was benched by Stoneking for about the final 1 1/2 quarters.
"As the leader of the team, he has certain obligations he has to meet. I'm sure he will," Stoneking said. "We have some issues we have to take care of, non-basketball related."
OAK RIDGE (50) -- Stephen Bolen 3, Caleb Elam 10, Lucas Rohde 8, Jacob Light 2, Ryan Below 13, Brett Thomas 10, Kyle Rohde 4. FG 16. FT 14-19. F 17. (3-pointers: Elam 2, L. Rohde 2. Fouled out: none)
ADVANCE (58) -- Grant Gray 19, Hunter Wilson 8, John Middleton 11, Darren VanGennip 4, Ryan Moses 6, Hunter Shoemaker 1, Ethan Barr 9. FG 19. FT 14-18. F 20. (3-pointers: Gray 3, Middleton 1, Moses 2. Fouled out: Middleton)