IRONTON — For the first time since 2002, there will be a new champion crowned at the Arcadia Valley Thanksgiving basketball tournament.
Junior Cole Holbert made a driving scoop with seven seconds remaining for his lone basket on Tuesday night, and fourth-seeded West County nipped six-time defending champion South Iron, 34-33 in opening-round action.
Senior Zac Priest scored a game-high 15 points while Trevor Kean netted nine and Trevor Morgan added seven for the Bulldogs (1-0), who will meet top-seeded Arcadia Valley tonight in a 6:30 p.m. semifinal game.
South Iron (0-1) threatened to seize victory at the buzzer after trailing throughout most of a subdued second half, but missed two putback attempts from close range.
Sophomore forward Trevor Ruble sank three free throws with 33 seconds left after drawing a shooting foul beyond the arc, giving the fifth-seeded Panthers a brief 33-32 edge.
Ruble finished with 12 points, including a pair of triples before intermission, and Angelo Hampton added eight for South Iron, which will face Bismarck tonight at 5 p.m. in the consolation bracket.
West County extended a 25-24 halftime lead on a three-point play from Priest, then burned nearly three minutes in a strategic stalemate with Kean simply holding the basketball near the midcourt circle.
But Hampton eventually made a steal and layup just before time expired in the third quarter, cutting the South Iron deficit to 30-27.
West County ended the opening period ahead 11-10. Aaron Krodinger then sparked a sequence of four rapid lead changes with an inside field goal that gave South Iron its first lead.
South Iron 10 14 3 6 – 33
West County 11 14 5 4 – 34
South Iron – Ruble 12, Hampton 8, Bond 7, Krodinger 6. 3-point FG – Ruble 2, Hampton, Bond.
West County – Priest 15, Kean 9, Morgan 7, Holbert 2, Gidden. 3-point FG – Priest, Kean.
Free Throws: SI 11-18 WC 10-15