LEADWOOD – The West County boys basketball team persevered in the absence of a main contributor to seize command of the MAAA Small-School conference race Friday night.
Matt Momot scored 17 points and Jared Barnett grabbed 11 rebounds upon joining the starting lineup, and the Bulldogs withstood a battle from rival Arcadia Valley for a 72-60 Homecoming win.
Parker Forshee shook off a struggle from the line to compile 15 points plus six steals, and capped a key 9-0 run with five straight points to begin the fourth quarter.
West County (10-5, 2-0) drained 21-of-41 free throws overall, and holds the lone unbeaten record in the five-game league schedule with arguably its two toughest obstacles cleared.
Junior forward Jacob Meinershagen hopes to return from illness within a week, but the Bulldogs found other sources of offense to still land four players in double figures.
Jake Pryor netted a game-high 19 points despite collecting three first-half fouls, and Austin Wren sank five 3-pointers to finish with 16 for Arcadia Valley (2-10, 0-1).
Blake Barlow attacked the basket for a conventional 3-point play, then connected on a corner jumper as West County stretched its lead to 37-28 in the third quarter.
But sophomore Peyton Whited drew a charge against Barlow moments later, and Arcadia Valley induced five turnovers while surging back with an 11-2 run.
Pryor converted a 3-point play on a powerful drive, and rolled in fading jumper on the Tigers’ next trip. Trey Jones then leveled the contest at 39-39 on a putback.
Wren answered a banked 3-pointer by Bulldogs sophomore Noah Vinson from about 23 feet away, but West County closed the third on post baskets by Austin Bradley and Barnett for a 47-42 advantage.
Forshee followed his own miss to begin the fourth quarter, and turned a stolen pass into a layup that restored a 52-42 margin with 7:08 remaining.
Arcadia Valley drew to within 57-51 on two free throws by senior Hayden Helvey, who netted 12 of his 13 points after halftime.
But the Bulldogs earned another huge second-chance shot when Forshee emerged with an offensive rebound and kicked out to Momot for a successful 3-pointer.
West County built its largest lead at 66-53 on a perfect trip to the line by Barlow, who totaled 14 points while teammate Roger Vance chipped in 11.
The Tigers received 12 points from Jones as four players accounted for their entire scoring output. His nifty reverse layup with contact spotted the visitors a 7-2 start.
West County responded with a couple of transition plays off loose-ball scrambles, and jumped ahead 16-12 when Momot nailed his second triple of the opening quarter.
Forshee made a fast-break layup for a 27-16 lead after Brendan Pingel made a steal and outlet pass from his stomach, and Vance had three field goals in the second period for the Bulldogs.
Wren briefly rallied AV with a pair of 3-pointers before intermission, but a putback at the buzzer from Nate Kinnard gave West County a 31-24 advantage.
Jeremiah Moore claimed eight rebounds for the Tigers, who were 9-of-17 from the line.
Matt King is a sports reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact him at email@example.comâ€‹