Practices at the line pay off for former Oran player

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Former Oran player Travis Friga watched his alma mater fall to Bell City in the seMissourian Christmas Tournament third-place game Monday night.

But it wasn't a total loss for the former Eagle.

Friga, a former all-conference player, walked away with $200 won at the halftime shootout of the championship game.

Friga, 21, beat five other contestants, including Heath Fulton, a freshman player on Meadow Heights' varsity.

After all six contestants missed a 12-footer in the lane, Friga and Fulton both connected from the left corner of the free throw line to force a showdown. Both missed from the center of the free-throw line before Friga sank a shot from the right side of the line.

"I missed my free throw and an easy shot," Friga said in relieved disbelief.

But the $200 Christmas rebate kept the junior at Southeast Missouri State University from hanging his head too much.

"It's nice, especially after Christmas, to get reimbursed for all those gifts we bought," he said.

A meaningful number

Ever wonder why the Bell City players feature a large white "18" on the back of their black warmup shirts?

According to Bell City coach David Heeb, it's motivation for the defending Class 1 state champions.

"Seventeen teams have won the state tournament back-to-back," Heeb said. "The kids' goal is to become the 18th team."

The Cubs, who wore the shirts in their pregame warmup before each tournament game, have been sporting the shirts all season.

"It's just a way to keep us focused," Heeb said.

Hornets hit with the bug

Advance played in Monday's consolation championship game despite an upper-respiratory infection that plagued the entire team.

"We had kids throwing up before the game, at halftime and after the game," Advance coach Jim Hall said.

Eight of Advance's 11 team members had a fever at game time. Hall was hoping his squad would at least get through the first quarter.

Despite the 71-63 loss to Woodland, Hall said, "I've never been more proud of a team in my whole coaching career. These kids did a great job battling through this."

Familiar faces

Monday's championship games featured matchups that aren't entirely unfamiliar.

Advance and Woodland, which played for the consolation trophy, already played early in December in the Woodland Invitational Tournament. They'll play again Feb. 11 in a Stoddard County Conference game.

Jackson and Central, which played for fifth place, will play Feb. 11 in a SEMO Conference game and could meet in the district tournament. They also met at the FarmingtonInvitational in their season-opening game.

Oran and Bell City, which played for third place, met in a semifinal of the Oran Invitational Tournament and will play again Feb. 7. They also could play in the Class 1 district tournament.

Charleston and Notre Dame, which played for the title, will play again Jan. 7.

-- Jeff Breer, David Unterreiner, David Wilson

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