IRONTON – A colossal scoring disparity in the third quarter helped the Lesterville boys basketball team make its first championship run at the Arcadia Valley Thanksgiving Tournament since 1966 look easy.
The Bearcats converted 18-of-23 from the line, and committed eight turnovers while routing traditional favorite South Iron 70-45 in the final on Thursday night.
Brendan Myers hit 9-of-10 free throws, and powered a balanced attack with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Vince Mathes added 16 points off the bench after sparking a pivotal swing in the second quarter.
Lesterville (3-0), returned all five starters from last season, but bared no resemblance to that struggling 5-win squad while ousting three higher seeds this week in the presence of capacity crowds.
The Bearcats enforced a running clock in a stunning blowout after beginning the title contest without a made field goal through the first six-plus minutes.
South Iron (2-1) surged to a double-digit lead of 11-1 with freshman Brock Wakefield carrying the entire scoring load during that stretch. He netted a game-high 21 points while going 6-of-6 from the line.
But the Panthers were shut down from there, shooting just 29 percent from the field. Lesterville closed the first quarter on a 7-0 spurt, and continued to gather momentum.
Mathes drilled consecutive 3-pointers, and Drew Richardson followed with a fast-break layup off a steal to spot the No. 5 seed a sudden 18-13 advantage.
Austin Ruble connected twice from long range to bring South Iron back within 30-29 barely one minute into the third quarter, but eventually fouled out along with fellow starter Garrett Hovis.
The Bearcats followed with a signature 29-3 outburst, getting 10 points from Myers’ work in the post and back-to-back threes by Riley Mathes and Richardson.
Myers scored a second-chance basket to create a margin to 66-36 with 4:20 remaining. Riley Mathes had nine points while Holden Laughman and Gage Shy each contributed eight to the win.
Ruble finished with nine points for South Iron.