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Advance boys basketball team downs Chaffee to reach district final
Advance defeated Chaffee 61-53 to reach the championship game in Class 2 District 3
ORAN, Mo. -- Grant Gray doesn't care where he's at on the floor.
If the Advance senior is open, he's willing to shoot, even in a tight ballgame.
Gray unleased a 3-pointer from a few steps behind the arc with Tuesday's Class 2 District 3 semifinal deadlocked in the third quarter.
"Coach just tells me that if I'm open to shoot it," Gray said. "He said he's not going to get mad at me. He trusts me. It builds confidence in me. It makes me think I can shoot better."
Gray swished it to give his team a lead it never relinquished. Advance finally put away a pesky Chaffee squad, emerging with a 61-53 win at Oran High School.
"I have all the confidence in the world," Advance coach Andrew Halford said about Gray. "I have all the confidence in every one of them. I know when they shoot, it's going in."
Gray's 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 51 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Hornets a little breathing room. He drained another 3-pointer with 1:46 left in the quarter to give his team a 44-38 lead.
"Grant had really big 3s," Advance senior Darren VanGennip said. "We depend on him. He's our 3 shooter on this team and he comes through at clutch times."
Gray finished with 19 points, including three treys.
"Even when we do a zone, we got to communicate and know where he's at," Chaffee senior Mike Rutherford said. "Grant Gray is a beast."
Advance jumped out to a nine-point lead early in the second quarter, but the Red Devils responded with a 10-0 run to grab the lead. The teams played hot potato with the lead for the rest of the opening half and went to the intermission tied at 30-30.
Chaffee struggled shooting in the first quarter, hitting 21 percent (3 of 14) but heated up in the second quarter by going 8 of 14 (57 percent) and scoring 23 points.
The Hornets started the second half with more defensive intensity. They forced six Chaffee turnovers in the third quarter, which helped them outscore the Red Devils 18-11 in the period.
"Coach kind of had a few choice words for us there in the locker room," VanGennip said. "We went out and picked it up and went to our chaos defense a little bit."
Gray said the Hornets focused their attention on the defensive end during halftime.
"We just told each other in the locker room to calm down and go after them," he said. "We wanted to win and we couldn't do it yelling at each other. So we had to get our team under control then come out and play."
Advance pushed its lead to 10 points on a Gray 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, but Chaffee kept chipping away. The Red Devils got within four points on a Rutherford bucket with 6:21 left.
Advance pushed the lead back to nine points with 3:52 left, but Chaffee responded with a 6-0 run to get within three with 1:11 left.
"It was pretty frustrating because it seemed like we got our lead then we relaxed and they'd come back and get on a roll and we're still stuck," VanGennip said. "With them on a roll, we have to start getting on a roll and coming back."
Advance finally sealed the win by scoring the last five points of the game, going 5 of 10 from the free-throw line over the finally 1:04 of the contest.
"The kids kept playing hard," Chaffee coach Josh Govreau said. "They didn't give up. They were fighting to the end every single possession."
Advance will face a familiar for in Thursday's championship game. The Hornets already beat Oran 84-72 on Feb. 15.
"We've got to push the ball up the floor and play our game, not let them play theirs," Gray said. "Block out. We got to rebound."
Advance last won a district title in boys basketball in 2006.
The Red Devils end the season 15-13, the program's first winning season in 31 years.
"I feel good about it because we haven't had a winning season in 30-something years," Rutherford said. "We should have had a better record, but a winning season."
ADVANCE (61) -- Grant Gray 19, Darren VanGennip 20, Dylan Dunivan 2, Hunter Shoemaker 2, Hunter Wilson 5, Jacob Spears 5, Ethan Barr 8. FG 23, FT 11-22, F 21. (3-pointers: Gray 3, Wilson 1. Fouled out: none)
CHAFFEE (53) -- Michael Rutherford 15, Jason Cicardi 2, Blake Senciboy 6, Alex Crowe 2, Jordan Yahn 12, Alex Davie 6, Zach Dannenmueller 10. FG 21, FT 8-17, F 20. (3-pointers: Senciboy 2, Rutherford 1. Fouled out: none)