PARK HILLS – Central sophomore Breven McMullen drained a corner 3-pointer in transition after teammate Holden Mayberry blocked a potential game-tying layup on the other end to gain a five-point lead with two minutes to play.
The Rebels maintained their advantage through the end of a quarterfinal game in the Central Christmas Tournament by frequently converting at the free-throw line, and advanced Thursday with a 57-51 victory over Festus.
No. 4 Central (6-3) redeemed itself after losing to Festus by one point earlier this season on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer during its home opener. The Rebels will face top seed Hillsboro on Friday in a semifinal contest.
Brent Wagner drilled four 3-pointers to pace Central with 15 points plus seven rebounds, while Mayberry tallied a team-high 10 rebounds. McMullen notched 11 points and six rebounds in the win.
Savez Thomas, who scored the first six Festus points, finished with a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds with an imposing presence near the basket.
The Tigers generated an early 10-0 run, and Daniel Portell sealed a 12-2 advantage with his second consecutive perimeter shot with four minutes to play in the first quarter. Portell and Brennan Pryor each posted 10 points in the loss.
Wagner blocked a layup and raced to the other end for a layup as time expired, narrowing the spread to 16-12.
The Rebels gained two brief leads late in the second quarter, but trailed 30-29 at halftime as a made half-court heave by Will Hopkins was released too late.
Each team began the third period with an increase in turnovers, and traded the lead several times.
Wade Scherffius recorded his first points midway through the third, and Central gained a slim 40-39 advantage entering the final quarter.
The Rebels maintained their slight edge with tough interior defense, and ran long offensive possessions to manage time late in the game.
North County 64, Ste. Genevieve 49
PARK HILLS – Hayden Sprenkel paced North County past Ste. Genevieve with 34 points and 11 rebounds in another quarterfinal game at Central.
The Raiders executed a defensive stand during the second quarter, limiting the Dragons to just three points to gain a 25-15 edge at halftime. Sprenkel recorded 20 points after the break to help seal a 64-49 victory.
Second-seeded North County (8-2) advanced to the semifinal round to play rival and No. 2 seed Farmington on Friday. Ste. Genevieve (4-6) will battle South Iron earlier in the consolation semifinals.
Hunter Johnson tied the score at 12-12 going into the second quarter with a pair of free throws after Sprenkel converted the first 10 North County points. Johnson ended with seven points and six rebounds.
Gabe Greminger, who tallied 11 points, notched the lone basket during the second quarter for Ste. Genevieve on a completed 3-point play with one minute remaining.
Logan Trollinger led the Dragons during the second half with 18 of his team-high 20 points. He briefly narrowed the deficit within 35-29 by scoring eight straight points late in the third quarter.
Sprenkel reestablished a 44-34 North County advantage with a pair of free throws during the first minute of the fourth quarter.
The Raiders continued to build their lead with foul shots, and executed longer possessions down the stretch.
Isiah Poirrier finished with 11 points for North County, and Nick Parker added seven points with six rebounds.
Derek Morganthaler posted nine points plus seven rebounds in the loss.
Farmington 82, South Iron 42
PARK HILLS – Brendon Hardy and his Farmington teammates were locked in for a second straight night while scorching a path to the Central Christmas Tournament semifinals.
The senior guard swished a 3-pointer, and finished a transition dunk through contact within the first 90 seconds of action, and the third-seeded Knights hammered South Iron 82-42.
Farmington (4-4) buried 11-of-18 attempts from 3-point range before pulling its starters in the third quarter, and shot a remarkable 70 percent from field overall.
Hardy struck five times along the perimeter to finish with 22 points along with seven rebounds, and Tycen Gray provided 18 points plus seven rebounds in the win.
The Knights unofficially tripled South Iron in total rebounds while posting its second straight 40-point margin of victory, and will face North County in a semifinal showdown on Friday night.
No. 11 South Iron (6-4) was hoping for a second consecutive upset over a much higher seed, but was submerged by an early Farmington attack.
Gray finished an assist from Cameron Friend after Cody Wright sank a 3-pointer to cap an opening 15-3 run. Hardy had 13 points in the first quarter, including another triple just before time expired.
Two inbounds plays resulted in Gray field goals during the second period, and Farmington used a 26-7 differential over that 8-minute span to create a 47-19 halftime lead.
Bryce Sancegraw added seven points and Jackson Schrum had six as a bevy of Knights recorded baskets in the second half. Hardy and Gray went back to back from deep range for a 68-29 separation.
Garrett Hovis ended with 11 points, and freshman Marco Burse tallied seven of his nine during the first quarter for the Panthers.
Hillsboro 75, Potosi 38
PARK HILLS – Hillsboro established its early supremacy in the post as the top seed, and continued to attack down low against Potosi during a quarterfinal contest at the Central Christmas Tournament.
Isaiah Martin paced all players with 21 points in the Hawks' 75-38 triumph, while Gaven Pinkley added 18 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and a pair of dunks.
Kaleb Coffman battled near the rim to contribute 14 points and six rebounds for the Trojans. Noah Jacobsen led Potosi (4-5) with 17 points.
The Trojans will play Festus in the fifth-place bracket on Friday.
Pinkley opened the contest by cutting along the baseline and flushing a lob at the rim that Ben Lampkins released from the top of the key.
Hillsboro held Potosi scoreless through the first three minutes of play until Trenton Cain sank a pair of free throws to make the score 6-2. Cain ended with eight a game-high eight rebounds.
Martin converted back to back 3-point plays during the last minute of the first quarter to put the Hawks ahead 20-6.
Lampkins, who contributed 10 points, drained the first perimeter shot of the game with six minutes to play in the second quarter.
Hillsboro widened its lead near halftime with consistency from the line, and Pinkely beat the halftime buzzer with a jumper for a 42-17 advantage.
Michael Brewer provided 10 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks in the win.