Leopold pays back Advance for Christmas tourney loss with a 71-60 victory Thursday
ADVANCE, Mo -- The Leopold boys basketball team had Thursday night's game against Advance highlighted on the calendar ever since the Hornets eliminated it from the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament.
"We've wanted it since that night," Leopold coach Andy Beck said. "That was our big key, when we lost at the Christmas tournament, was we're fortunate enough to have them again at their place. That's the one that matters."
Leopold reversed much of what happened at the Christmas tournament, including the result, with a 71-60 victory on the Hornets' home floor.
"We knew they (were) going to come out ready," Advance coach Andrew Halford said. "The first game, I think we ended up winning by 14, but it was a battle all the way through, without a doubt."
Leopold led throughout much of the first half in the teams' previous meeting, but it was Advance that dominated the second half as it slowly pulled away from the Wildcats for a 64-50 win.
Thursday's game started out similarly with Leopold (13-2) building a 37-29 halftime advantage.
"Coach told us in the locker room that the third quarter is the quarter that is the most important quarter of all, because that's the quarter that decides who's going to win the game," said Leopold junior Cameron Davis, acknowledging his team addressed the second-half reversal at halftime.
Leopold outscored Hornets in both the third and fourth quarters.
"We had to come out with the mindset that we just had to close out the game," Leopold's Kyle Stroder said.
The night was also much different for Stroder, the Wildcats' leading scorer. The senior scored just eight points in the previous matchup, but poured in 26 Thursday night.
"Stroder played very well," said Halford, listing that as the biggest difference-maker. "He struggled scoring the ball against us the first time, but you can't hold someone like him down as well as we did every time. Both times we played them, they came out from the beginning and got us in the hole. The first time we (were) able to dig back out of it, but this time, it wasn't the case."
Advance (9-5) pulled within four points with 5 minutes, 9 seconds left in the game, but Leopold replied with a 6-0 run capped by a thtee-point play from senior post player Brandon Jansen.
"We knew a run would come," Beck said. "We were ready with those timeouts, ready to use them. We saved our four until the fourth. I almost called one right there, and Brandon got that 'and-1,' and that was huge. That was great."
Both teams agreed Thursday night's game was played at Leopold's pace, which was another reversal.
"Play to our tempo," Davis said, explaining what he thought was most important. "Because they like to push and speed us up, and we knew if we played to our tempo -- I don't think they could stop us if we played to our tempo."
Halford lamented his team's inability to speed up the game.
"We struggled with their little 2-3 zone," he said. "We struggled attacking. We were overly passive, and that's not the way we play. We try to be aggressive and get up and down the floor, and that just wasn't the case."
Senior Ethan Barr scored 24 points for the Hornets, most from the paint.
"They've got two big guys inside and they like to be physical, and they've got really good guards and they like to feed them," Stroder said. "They're a real physical team, but we just had to be physical back with them."
LEOPOLD (71) -- DJ Keim 6, Kyle Stroder 26, Joe Elfrink 14, Cameron Davis 12, Brandon Jansen 13. FG 24, FT 18-31, F 17. (3-pointers: Stroder 4, Elfrink 1. Fouled out: none)
ADVANCE (60) -- Tyler Middleton 5, Austin Shaffer 1, Lane Below 14, Trey Wallace 12, Curtis Gilliland 4, Ethan Barr 24. FG 19, FT 20-24, F 21. (3-pointers: Middleton 1, Below 1. Fouled out: Below)