LEADWOOD — West County kept top-seeded Scott City mostly frustrated through three quarters of basketball on Tuesday night, and built an eventual 9-point advantage early in the fourth.
But the Rams increased their defensive pressure during a pivotal 8-0 run, and grabbed key rebounds at the offensive end to escape with a 61-60 semifinal win at the Class 3, District 3 tournament.
Senior Zach Cotner and sophomore Jesse Sanders netted 14 points each in a balanced scoring effort, as four different Scott City players reached double figures. Jonathan McFall added 11 points and Landon Robert had 10.
Justin Lashley ended his varsity career with a game-high 20 points in the loss. A fading baseline jumper by the senior guard bolstered the upset bid, pushing the fourth-seeded Bulldogs ahead 47-38 on their home court.
Cotner answered with a mid-range jumper, and the Rams forced a 5-second call on the ensuing inbounds. Robert quickly drained a corner 3-pointer, and connected again after a West County pass was fumbled out of bounds.
McFall utilized a nifty spin move and banked a difficult shot from 15 feet to gave the Rams a 52-50 lead with 2:01 to play. Cotner’s putback of a missed free throw further extended the margin to five.
Lashley buried a 23-footer with 33.4 seconds left to bring the Bulldogs within 57-55. Robert countered with a perfect trip to the line, and West County followed with its 18th turnover of the night.
Ryan Brock split two final free throws, making Lashley’s third 3-pointer at the buzzer inconsequential to the outcome. Scott City (19-8) advanced to face Saxony Lutheran in Thursday’s championship game.
Steven Barnett compiled 11 points and nine rebounds for the Bulldogs (16-12), who established a 31-24 halftime lead and withstood an initial comeback threat when the Rams opened the third quarter with a 6-0 run.
West County threw errant passes on two straight trips, but did not deviate from its plan to create off the dribble. Tate Watson flipped an interior pass to Jesse Waters for a layup, and Lashley followed his own miss to restore a 43-36 separation.
The Rams committed only six turnovers in the contest, but missed several early shots from close range. A physical putback by and cutting layup from Jake Coleman helped West County end the first quarter leading 12-10.
A 3-point play from Barnett capped a 15-4 run in the foul-plagued second stanza after Scott City had briefly regained the lead. Kyle Coleman split two defenders for a transition basket during the spurt.
West County 12 19 14 15 – 60
Scott City 10 14 14 23 – 61
West County – Justin Lashley 20, Steven Barnett 11, Jesse Waters 9, Tate Watson 8, Jake Coleman 6, Kyle Coleman 6. 3-point FG – Lashley 3, Watson. (FT: 14-19)
Scott City – Jesse Sanders 14, Zach Cotner 14, Jonathan McFall 11, Landon Robert 10, Ryan Brock 5, Ryan Fortner 4, Tyler Adams 3. 3-point FG – Robert 2, Sanders, McCall, Adams. (FT: 16-28)