Oak Ridge ends drought at Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament

Monday, December 31, 2012
Oak Ridge’s Ryan Below goes in for a shot against Ryan Brock in the third quarter of the consolation championship game at the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament on Sunday at the Show Me Center. (Laura Simon)

Oak Ridge felt the sting of losing in the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament consolation final the last two seasons.

The Blue Jays were determined to end this year's event on a positive note.

Mission accomplished.

Oak Ridge rode a big performance from junior Ryan Below to a 61-55 win over Scott City Sunday afternoon at the Show Me Center.

"It's real exciting because two years in a row losing in the consolation. ... it was real disappointing," Below said. "We really wanted this one. We really played together and made it happen."

The 11th-seeded Blue Jays, who improved to 10-2, beat two higher-seeded teams on consecutive days, including No. 9 Scott City to avenge a 52-43 loss to the Rams in the semifinals of the Woodland tournament Nov. 29.

"I'm really proud of these guys, coming off that really disappointing first night [a 69-34 opening-round loss to Leopold]," said Oak Ridge coach Adam Stoneking, whose squad officially finished ninth in the 16-team field. "They really played hard."

Stoneking wasn't sure when Oak Ridge last came away from the Christmas Tournament with a trophy, but one of school's former players said the Blue Jays also captured the consolation title in the early 1990s.

Scott CIty coach Mark Dannenmueller checks the score during the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

"Before any of these kids were born," Stoneking said with a smile. "It's a big accomplishment for them."

Below, a powerfully built 6-foot-4 forward who has been a key performer for Oak Ridge since he was a freshman, led all scorers with 22 points -- including hitting his first 3-pointer of the season in the second quarter.

"It's the first one I've really taken other than maybe a half-court buzzer-beater," Below said. "He left me open. I just knocked it down."

Below, also a force on the boards and on defense, did most of his offensive damage inside. One play especially stood out -- which the Blue Jays credited with changing the game's momentum.

Scott City (6-6) led 8-3 before Oak Ridge got going. Below stole a pass and drove for an emphatic two-handed dunk, making it 8-7.

"Dunks are always exciting," said Below, who has had his share during his prep career. "It gets everybody excited. It just fires us up."

Moments after Below's slam, senior guard Hunter Seyer knocked down a 3-pointer to put Oak Ridge ahead 10-9. Scott City never caught up.

"When Ryan got that dunk, it got everybody going," junior guard Kelby Brown said.

Brown added 12 points for Oak Ridge. Seyer had 11.

Senior guards Jesse Sanders and Jonathan McFall each scored 21 points for the Rams.

Ryan Brock, Scott City's 6-5 senior forward who led all tournament scorers with 76 points through three games, was held to two points.

"We didn't compete like we should have competed," Scott City coach Mark Dannenmueller said. "We took two steps forward the last two days, then took a step back today by not competing hard enough.

"Give them credit. They wanted it more than we did. It was obvious."

Oak Ridge, ahead 17-14 after one quarter, outscored Scott City 17-8 in the second period to grab a 34-22 halftime lead. Below had 13 points in the first half.

The Rams rallied to within 46-42 after three quarters and cut the deficit to 46-45 early in the final period. But the Blue Jays held strong and hit 7 of 9 free throws in the final 1 minute, 18 seconds to seal the win. Below and Brown each made two foul shots in the last 25 seconds.

"They kept fighting back," Brown said. "But we really wanted to win it."

Oak Ridge17171215--61
Scott City1482013--55

OAK RIDGE (61) -- Andrew Puchbauer 2, Ethan Seyer 4, Hunter Seyer 11, Kelby Brown 12, Ryan Below 22, Lance Rohde 6, Corvin Schoen 4. FG 22, FT 14-22, F 9. (3-pointers: H. Seyer 1, Brown 1, Below 1. Fouled out: None.)

SCOTT CITY (55) -- Eric Urhahn 2, Trent Pobst 4, Jesse Sanders 21, Jonathan McFall 21, Ryan Fortner 5, Ryan Brock 2. FG 23, FT 4-7, F 19. (3-pointers: Sanders 2, McFall 3. Fouled out: None.)

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