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Christmas Tournament: Leopold thwarts Oak Ridge's upset bid
Some people were pointing to a potential upset when 11th-seeded Oak Ridge met sixth-seeded Leopold in Thursday's opening round of the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament.
Leopold junior Cameron Davis heard the talk -- and it fired him up.
"It motivated me when I heard it over the radio today," Davis said. "They said it could be a possible upset. We came out with fire."
The fired-up Wildcats remained undefeated by swamping a solid Oak Ridge squad 69-34.
Leopold, ranked eighth in the Class 1 state poll, improved to 10-0. The Blue Jays fell to 7-2.
"It definitely motivated us. We know we're a good team too," Leopold senior Kyle Stroder said of the pre-tournament upset talk. "We had to come out focused."
Stroder, a member of last year's all-tournament team who is receiving interest from several colleges, came out especially focused.
Stroder, a 6-foot-5 guard, poured in 26 points, 18 during a first half that ended with Leopold on top 36-11. He hit three first-quarter 3-pointers and finished the night with six baskets from beyond the arc.
"He makes my job easy," Leopold coach Andy Beck said with a smile.
Said Stroder: "I wanted to come out and set the tone for the team. My teammates did a good job getting me the ball and I got in a rhythm."
Senior guard D.J. Keim scored 20 points for the Wildcats. Davis, a quick guard who helps spearhead Leopold's pressure defense, added 12 points.
"We executed everything coach told us to do," Davis said.
Oak Ridge, which got 12 points from junior Ryan Below, trailed just 14-8 after one quarter.
The roof caved in for the Blue Jays in the second period as they were outscored 22-3. Oak Ridge went nearly six minutes without a point at the outset of the quarter.
"We were a little hesitant at first," Beck said. "The second quarter we got a little bit of a lead and our guys started running more."
It was 63-27 after three quarters. The entire final period was played with a running clock used when a team is ahead by at least 30 points.
"Leopold came out ready to play. A lot of our guys are still at home wrapping Christmas presents," Oak Ridge coach Adam Stoneking said. "I asked them at halftime what they got for Christmas. I think it was still on their minds."
Beck said the Wildcats are looking forward to Notre Dame.
OAK RIDGE (34) -- Andrew Puchbauer 3, Kelby Brown 4, Ryan Below 12, Lance Rohde 9, Corvin Schoen 6. FG 12, FT 9-11, F 13. (3-pointers: Puchbauer 1. Fouled out: Below)
LEOPOLD (69) -- Austin Bucher 2, D.J. Keim 20, Kyle Stoder 26, Joe Elfrink 3, Andrew McWilliams 2, Cameron Davis 12, Ethan Broshius 3, Brandon Jansen 1. FG 26, FT 9-18, F 14. (3-pointers: Keim 2, Stroder 6. Fouled out: None)