IRONTON — West County was productive when getting close to the basket in the closing minutes Tuesday night, and landed the first upset in relation to seeding at the Arcadia Valley Thanksgiving Tournament.
Senior forward Steven Barnett compiled game highs with 24 points and 13 rebounds, and the 5th-seeded Bulldogs sank 22-of-30 free throws to topple Bismarck 77-64 in the lone quarterfinal played on the second day.
Strong guard play provided offensive balance as West County (1-0) advanced to meet top seed South Iron in Wednesday’s semifinal round.
Sophomore Clayton LaBruyere had a huge effort from the perimeter to register 21 points, and junior Kyle Coleman provided 16 points and eight boards off the bench while going 10-of-12 from the line.
Bismarck (0-1) ran an excellent interior passing play to pull within 64-61 as Logan Blunt sent a feed across to junior forward Ryan Johnston, who finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.
But the Indians were unable to keep pace from the perimeter, missing their last five attempts from 3-point range. A coast-to-coast layup from Coleman helped West County seal the outcome with an 8-0 run.
Blunt totaled 16 points with nine boards and repeatedly drew contact while battling in the paint, but struggled to 8-of-20 from the stripe. Jeremia Owens added 14 points for the defending MAAA Small-School champions.
Barnett followed his own blocked shot for a conventional 3-point play, then dropped in a fading putback at the buzzer with an objection from the Indians’ bench to put West County ahead 25-16.
LaBruyere spread six total 3-pointers over the entire contest. He connected late in the second quarter before making a diagonal bounce pass to a cutting Chasten Boen, and West County enjoyed its largest lead of 41-29.
Bismarck needed just four minutes to erase that entire deficit with a 16-2 response, creating fast breaks off defensive pressure.
Cody Miles made two transition layups, the second of which forged a tie, and Johnson dribbled end to end before sinking a soft pull-up jumper. The Indians briefly claimed their second lead at 45-43.
Barnett answered a Johnston basket with a deep baseline jumper, and the Bulldogs completed the third quarter ahead 53-49 after LaBruyere nailed a right-wing triple as time expired.
Bismarck guard Klayton Loughary missed substantial time after collecting his fourth foul near the midway mark of the second quarter. He sparked the Indians in the fourth with a pair of corner threes.
LaBruyere again stepped up long range to restore a 62-57 lead, and Barnett netted a key putback on the next West County possession.
The first of two conference showdowns between the rivals is scheduled for December 11 in Leadwood.
West County 25 16 12 24 – 77
Bismarck 16 15 18 15 – 64
West County – Steven Barnett 24, Clayton LaBruyere 21, Kyle Coleman 16, Isaak Vinson 5, Chasten Boen 4, Clayton Brinkley 4, Josh Barnett 3. 3-point FG – LaBruyere 6, Vinson. (FT: 22-30)
Bismarck – Ryan Johnston 21, Logan Blunt 16, Jeremia Owens 14, Cody Miles 7, Klayton Loughary 6. 3-point FG – Owens 2, Loughary 2, Miles. (FT: 13-30).