HILLSBORO, Mo. – Sophomore Brent Wagner sank a 3-pointer to snap a 45-45 deadlock for the Central boys basketball team with about three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
That shot sparked a pivotal 10-0 run to close the stanza, and the Rebels survived a late defensive breach to reach the championship game of the Gene Steighorst Tournament on Friday night.
Wagner scored a game-high 18 points, Breven McMullen added 16, and the Rebels sank 15-of-18 free throws in the fourth quarter to edge Francis Howell Central 75-73.
Wade Scherffius went 8-of-8 from the line while notching 15 points, and Will Hopkins provided eight. Central (2-1) will face top seed and tourney host Hillsboro on Saturday night.
Freshman Myles Estrada scored 17 points before fouling out, and Tyrek Coleman netted 16 exclusively after halftime to propel a serious closing threat by Francis Howell Central.
McMullen spotted Central a 61-49 lead in the final period, but the Rebels could not prevent the Spartans from effectively attacking the rim from there.
Coleman sandwiched back-to-back field goals around a steal to bring the margin to 67-63, and Howell Central managed to score on each of its last seven possessions.
Jake Casey hit two free throws to restore a 74-69 lead for the Rebels, but the Spartans picked up four points within a span of five seconds while swiping an inbounds pass.
Will Hopkins, whose transition layup beat the third-quarter buzzer, split a pair from the line with 3 seconds remaining before a midcourt heave by Howell Central missed the mark.
The Rebels trailed 17-15 through one quarter, but soon drew even on baskets by Scherffius and Keandre Mesa. Wagner and McMullen knocked down triples to establish a 34-27 lead, but the Spartans mounted a 6-0 run going into halftime.
Viburnum 78, Bismarck 74
VIBURNUM, Mo. – Bismarck senior Hunter Drake drained a late 3-pointer against Viburnum to surpass 1,000 career points in a narrow defeat on Friday.
Drake finished with 22 points for the game, but a valiant comeback attempt by the Indians fell just short as the host Blue Jays prevailed 78-74.
The teams were separated by 38 points at the Valley Tournament eight days earlier, but Bismarck made the rematch far more competitive even though illness left Austin Droege unable to play.
Senior Ryan Yarza stepped up with a career-high 16 points as five reached double figures for Bismarck (1-5), which will face Greenville at noon in the Rotary Shootout at Mineral Area College.
Devon Warden ended with 13 points while Tim Mork had 12 and Logan Dunn chipped in 11.
Viburnum stretched a 40-35 halftime edge to 59-50 entering the fourth quarter, and was paced by center Andy O’Dell with a game-high 25 points.
North County 51, St. Charles 37
ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Stephanie Peterson and Michaela Mason made big contributions on the offensive glass and at the free-throw line as the North County girls seized command in the second half.
Kayleigh Winch netted a team-high 14 points, and the Lady Raiders ramped up their defensive presence to emerge with a 51-37 triumph over St. Charles.
Julia Christopher added 11 points to the victory while Peterson scored 10 and Mason had eight. North County (3-2) recovered from a 23-18 halftime deficit on the road.
The Lady Raiders extended a 37-34 lead through three quarters by outscoring St. Charles 14-3 over the remaining eight minutes.
Dejah Roberts tallied a game-high 18 points for the Pirates (3-3).
Viburnum 72, Bismarck 27
VIBURNUM, Mo. – Kinsley Payne scored 29 points, and Viburnum controlled play against Bismarck for a 72-27 home victory.
Brandi Dumke finished with 19 more for the Lady Jays.
Brooklyn Fitzwater paced Bismarck (0-4) with 14 points, and Ashley Turner added 10.
St. Paul 47, Crossroads 33
HERCULANEUM, Mo. – St. Paul Lutheran collected its second straight win on Friday to finish fifth at the Doe Run Classic.
Paige Ames starred with 29 points as the Giants (3-1) topped Crossroads 47-33.