IRONTON – Fifth-seeded Lesterville outworked the No. 4 seed Bismarck for a glaring advantage in rebounding to advance past the opening round of the Arcadia Valley Thanksgiving Tournament on Tuesday.
Brendan Myers thrived on second-chance opprotunities, and finished with 18 points plus a game-high nine rebounds in the Bearcats' 77-66 victory.
Junior Riley Mathes paced Lesterville with 21 points, and helped his team maintain distance from the Indians by consistently attacking the basket and finishing at the rim.
Myers set the tone by corralling an offensive rebound and kicking the ball out to Mathes for a 3-pointer on the opening possession.
Hunter Drake intercepted a pass from Mathes less than a minute later, and brought the score within 3-2 after finishing the fast break to notch the first of his game-high 23 points.
Drew Richardson had the first of his three made shots from the perimeter bounce high off the back iron before falling through the cylinder for an 11-6 Lesterville lead. Richardson tallied 15 points and six rebounds.
The Bearcats consistently came down with offensive rebounds, and earned chances from the foul line to extend their advantage.
Vince Mathes converted two transition layups during the final 30 seconds of the first quarter to gain a 25-11 edge. However, Bismarck began the second on a 7-0 run by scoring on its first three possessions.
Riley Mathes steadily punished the interior defense of the Indians. He widened the lead to 32-20 by slashing into a crowded lane to finish a finger roll, and urged a Bismarck timeout midway through the second quarter.
Drake frequently attacked the basket nearing halftime, but the Bearcats maintained their advantage through second-chance scoring. Lesterville held a 40-30 lead at the break, despite closing with three straight turnovers.
Each side found success when driving in the third quarter, which resulted in neither gaining much momentum.
Logan Dunn, who recorded 11 points, set up a wide-open Drake in the corner to shrink the deficit 55-46 with 1:30 remaining in the period.
Vince Mathes drained a 3-pointer off an inbounds pass during the next trip down after his earlier transition layup was blocked out of bounds by Austin Droege.
Droege led the Indians with eight rebounds and had 11 points, while Tim Mork added seven rebounds with five points.
The Indians tried forcing the ball down low, but many risky passes resulted in turnovers. However, they scored on five consecutive possessions midway through the fourth, and Ryan Yarza added four points plus five rebounds during the stint.
Mork completed a three-point play with 2:20 remaining in the contest to bring Bismarck within 71-60.
Lesterville executed long possessions while Riley Mathes and Richardson each notched a basket down the stretch to help seal the win.
The Bearcats will face top seed West County in the first semifinal game on Wednesday.
Bismarck continued its drought in round one of the AV tourney, and will meet Fredericktown in the consolation bracket.