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Knights muscle past Raiders; top four boys seeds advance

PARK HILLS – The pure size advantage of top-seeded Farmington proved too strong for rival North County during a third quarter of separation at the Central Christmas Tournament on Friday.

Senior forward Tycen Gray powered his way to 25 points and eight rebounds for the Knights (6-1), who outscored the Raiders 24-12 over eight minutes to extend their 21-14 halftime lead.

Cole Gerstenberger and Cole Laurence totaled 10 points each in a 59-34 victory, and finished numerous interior passes as Farmington patiently operated its half-court offense to pull away.

Gray recorded six field goals during the third quarter alone, and capped the period with a 3-pointer in front of his team’s bench at the buzzer for a 45-26 advantage.

Farmington committed its only four turnovers in the first half, and will face Festus in the first semifinal game on Saturday night.

John Starkey compiled 13 points and seven rebounds for North County (7-4), which trimmed the gap to seven at intermission after Cody Hubbard and Jaelen Reed sank 3-pointers.

Gray would dominate the post from there with effective spin moves and superior height. He scored a cutting layup on a pass from Gerstenberger to create a 40-22 spread.

Freshman Isaiah Robinson threw down a transition dunk to present the largest lead of the night at 57-29 while adding six fourth-quarter points for the Knights.

Karter Kekec finished a difficult layup in traffic down the stretch, and matched Hubbard with six points each for the Raiders.

Festus 64, Central 60

PARK HILLS – Despite making just 16-of-30 free throws, fourth-seeded Festus received a clinching pair from Kobe Branscomb to seal a 64-60 quarterfinal victory over tournament host Central on Friday.

Jason Johnson sank three 3-pointers in the first half, and provided 17 points off the bench while Collin Reando added 15 for the Tigers (7-2), who will challenge top seed Farmington on Saturday.

Branscomb converted a 3-point play off a steal, and Central senior Jeremy Jones picked up a technical after fouling out during a crucial sequence of the third quarter.

Forward Zach Liles executed a catch and fade over two defenders moments later as the Festus advantage reached 46-36 with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Breven McMullen nearly willed Central (6-4) to a thrilling comeback by scoring 20 of his 26 points after halftime. He smoothly drove and glided inside to account for the Rebels’ first 10 points of the third quarter.

His last 3-pointer sliced the deficit to 57-55, and Drew Hamski nailed a left-side triple to make it 62-60 after Festus had restored a 61-55 advantage inside the final minute.

Cole Rickermann missed a front-end free throw for the Tigers, enabling Central to have one last possession with a chance to either tie or win. Brent Wagner was then fouled while dribbling across midcourt with 3.8 seconds left.

Needing both attempts from the line to potentially force overtime, the first fell off for Wagner, who contributed 17 points in defeat with four 3-pointers.

Both teams fouled often and reached the double bonus before halftime. Central was most affected by lack of depth, however, as Jake Casey and Cade Scherffius fouled out after Jones.

A pair of threes by Wagner spotted the Rebels a quick 8-2 start, but Festus answered with a 3-point play by Branscomb and tying triple from Johnson.

Austin Anderson and Rickermann struck on back-to-back heaves from long range to create a 24-17 lead for the Tigers, who carried a smaller 28-26 difference into the break.

McMullen beat the first-quarter buzzer with a 50-foot launch that squared the contest at 15-15. Casey tossed in seven points, and Scherffius grabbed eight rebounds for the Rebels.

Festus faced a much tougher test in the rematch after prevailing over Central 73-49 four weeks ago.

Hillsboro 67, Ste. Genevieve 51

PARK HILLS – Michael Brewer elevated and dunked a diagonal perimeter lob from Zach Whaley toward the opposite rim, and punctuated a productive third quarter for second-seeded Hillsboro.

The senior forward pumped in 24 points, and the Hawks defeated Ste. Genevieve 67-51 on Friday night in a Central Christmas Tournament quarterfinal game.

Hillsboro (8-3) used a 20-10 scoring advantage in the third to extend a narrow 29-26 halftime margin, and will meet South Iron on Saturday for a spot in the championship game.

Mark Moore and Ben Lampkins provided the backcourt scoring balance with 15 and 10 points, respectively, and Garrett Pinkley contributed nine to the win.

Ste. Genevieve (7-3) kept the contest close throughout the first half by knocking down timely 3-pointers, and Derek Morganthaler notched his second on the last possession before the break.

But the Hawks continued to patiently find Brewer near the goal, and surged to a 49-36 cushion entering the fourth quarter. Their largest lead reached 19 in the final minute.

Morganthaler netted 10 of his team-high 15 points in the first half, and Sam Stolzer converted a 3-point play down the stretch to finish with nine for the Dragons.

Ste. Genevieve had a balanced scoring effort overall. Christian Boyer and Logan Trollinger chipped in eight points apiece while Chad Donze had seven.

South Iron 81, Fredericktown 57 

PARK HILLS – Fredericktown brought an aggressive mindset in its underdog role on Friday night in the Central Christmas Tournament quarterfinal round.

But unbeaten No. 3 seed South Iron was equipped for the challenge, and sophomore Brock Wakefield totaled 27 points to spark an 81-57 victory.

Freshman guard Drenin Dinkins added 16 points, and stemmed a final Fredericktown push with a timely steal and lob assist to Wakefield before sinking a 3-pointer for insurance.

Marco Burse battled inside for 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, while Austin Ruble drained three triples and D.J. Prater pitched in eight points with eight rebounds for the Panthers.

South Iron (10-0) closed on a 15-2 run, and will challenge another Class 4 opponent in Hillsboro during semifinal action on Saturday night.

Fredericktown (7-4) relied heavily on senior Colton Rehkop for early firepower as 14 of his 20 points occurred during the first half. Grant Shankle supplied 13 more.

The Blackcats surrendered four shots during an early possession that ended in a Champ McMurry field goal, and trailed 20-10 late in the opening period.

Rehkop capped the quarter with a 3-pointer, however, and knocked down another in the second. Back-to-back threes by Logan Winkelman and Dylan St. Clair slashed the margin to 30-24.

Wakefield picked up 10 first-quarter points inside, and the Panthers received a transition basket from Burse and an assist to Dinkins after rejecting a shot to build a 39-26 halftime cushion.

Ruble connected twice from the corner, and Prater answered a Winkelman putback in the third before McMurry’s 3-point play at the conclusion made it 60-39.

Fredericktown forced turnovers on three straight South Iron possessions later on, and got within 63-53 with 4:27 remaining after Shankle followed his 3-pointer with a slashing layup.

Arcadia Valley 72, Potosi 70

PARK HILLS – Sophomore guard Carter Brogan drilled a fading 26-footer that was ruled to count as time expired, and sent No. 14 seed Arcadia Valley past Potosi 72-70 in the consolation bracket of the Central Christmas Tournament.

The Tigers rallied in the final minute after watching a six-point edge slip away in the fourth quarter. Luke Savage originally scored on an outlet from Taylon Jones to make it 63-57.

Potosi surged back with a 10-0 run that consisted of two 3-pointers from Malachi Peppers off the bench plus two baskets in the paint from senior star Noah Jacobsen.

Savage tied the game at 69-69 on a triple from the left wing with 31 seconds left. Brogan then won it off a sideline inbounds curl and two dribbles after Ryker Walton had split two free throws with 22 seconds on the clock.

Brogan finished with 16 points in a balanced effort for the Tigers. Daniel Horn scored 11 of his 15 points in the third quarter, and Stephen Pursley added 14.

Savage netted 12 points, and Jones chipped in nine while making four steals and five assists. Arcadia Valley overcame a 1-of-9 performance from the line in the first half.

Jacobsen scored 14 points during a span of less than four minutes in the first quarter, and tallied 29 overall for game-high honors.

Bryce Reed added 11 points while Kaleb Coffman had 10 and Walton chipped in nine. Potosi trailed 15-9 after Jones drove end to end, but responded with a 16-4 run.

Jacobsen knocked down his third 3-pointer to give the Trojans a 32-23 advantage, and Reed finished a shot from the post to restore a 40-34 edge at halftime.

Arcadia Valley created three steals in four possessions to begin the third quarter, and moved in front 53-48 after Andrew Tedford sank back-to-back threes.

Arcadia Valley (3-8) moved on to face Perryville on Saturday. Potosi (4-6) went two games and done as the No. 6 seed, playing its second game in a span of 16 hours.

Farmington senior Cole Gerstenberger (20) has a shot challenged near the basket by North County forward John Starkey (32) and guard Karter Kekec during a boys quarterfinal game at the Central Christmas Tournament on Friday.

Farmington senior Cole Gerstenberger (20) has a shot challenged near the basket by North County forward John Starkey (32) and guard Karter Kekec during a boys quarterfinal game at the Central Christmas Tournament on Friday.

Central junior Breven McMullen (0) connects on a short jumper during the third quarter against Festus in a boys quarterfinal game at the Central Christmas Tournament on Friday night. He finished with 26 points.

Central junior Breven McMullen (0) connects on a short jumper during the third quarter against Festus in a boys quarterfinal game at the Central Christmas Tournament on Friday night. He finished with 26 points.

Arcadia Valley sophomore Carter Brogan makes a game-winning 3-pointer at the final buzzer as Potosi senior Noah Jacobsen defends during a consolation boys game on Friday at the Central Christmas Tournament.

Arcadia Valley sophomore Carter Brogan makes a game-winning 3-pointer at the final buzzer as Potosi senior Noah Jacobsen defends during a consolation boys game on Friday at the Central Christmas Tournament.

South Iron sophomore Marco Burse blocks a shot by Fredericktown senior Logan Winkelman during a boys quarterfinal game at the Central Christmas Tournament on Friday night.

South Iron sophomore Marco Burse blocks a shot by Fredericktown senior Logan Winkelman during a boys quarterfinal game at the Central Christmas Tournament on Friday night.

Veteran referee Dr. Shelton Sago waves to an applauding crowd on Friday night prior to working his final game at the Central Christmas Tournament. Sago in currently in his 35th year as an official.

Veteran referee Dr. Shelton Sago waves to an applauding crowd on Friday night prior to working his final game at the Central Christmas Tournament. Sago in currently in his 35th year as an official.

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