PARK HILLS – Four consecutive 3-point field goals helped the North County boys basketball team work its way back from a lethargic start against rival Central on Saturday.
The Raiders overcome a 20-point deficit to salvage third place at the Central Christmas Tournament with a 70-67 victory after the host squad missed four chances to tie in the closing seconds.
Hayden Sprenkel capped his final performance at the event with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and made 8-of-9 free throws.
Kolten Poorman supplied 11 big points off the bench for North County (9-3), including seven during the fourth quarter. His 3-pointer snapped a 61-61 tie with 3:01 remaining.
Teammate Isiah Poirrier left the action with an ankle injury moments later after Central sophomore Breven McMullen hustled back to block his transition layup attempt.
But Sprenkel attacked an open lane to extend the Raiders’ advantage, then made it 68-61 at the line after North County got another defensive stop.
Holden Mayberry posted 13 points and 12 rebounds for Central (6-5), and his work along the offensive glass nearly brought the Rebels even before time expired.
Cody Hubbard was fouled twice with the Raiders up by three, but two empty trips to the line afforded Central two possessions to potentially close the gap.
Mayberry rebounded two misses from the perimeter by senior guard Wade Scherffius, then raced to the right corner for a final attempt that caught only the back rim.
Scherffius was a perfect 6-of-6 on free throws, and finished with 13 points on a sore knee for the Rebels, who exploded to an original 24-4 lead over the first seven minutes.
Sophomore Brent Wagner notched 13 of his team-high 17 points during the first quarter, knocking down three consecutive 3-pointers to highlight a 13-2 run.
Wagner was given a brief rest after drawing a charging foul against Sprenkel. Jake Casey replaced him in the lineup, and scored his third straight basket off a clean steal to create a 24-4 separation.
Sprenkel ended the quarter with a deep triple, and swished another to open the second before assisting John Starkey and Poirrier on long-range connections within a 14-0 counter spurt.
Mayberry made his second putback to restore a 32-22 Central edge, but Hunter Johnson sank a 3-point shot and Sprenkel converted two free throws to make the halftime margin 35-31.
Karson Kekec finished a baseline feed as North County drew within 44-42, and Sprenkel drilled a 23-footer to put his team ahead for the first time at 50-49 with 41 seconds left in the third quarter.
Casey had nine points while McMullen netted eight as Central committed only five turnovers in defeat.
The teams are scheduled for a conference matchup Jan. 30 in Park Hills.
GIRLS THIRD PLACE
South Iron 61, Arcadia Valley 53
PARK HILLS – Arcadia Valley emphatically raced to an 11-0 lead on Saturday, but could not suppress the perimeter threat of South Iron standout guard Ashley Mickan.
Mickan netted 31 points while hitting 7-of-10 shots from 3-point range, and the Lady Panthers secured third place at the Central Christmas Tournament with a 61-53 triumph.
Michaela Ayers provided 14 points and Hanna Alexander added 11 for South Iron (9-3), which scored on three straight possessions down the stretch to seal the outcome.
Jaesa Brockes recorded her second double-double in three games with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Josie Landrum had nine points and six rebounds for Arcadia Valley (5-7).
Alexander banked in a 3-pointer and swished another to help South Iron surge to a 50-36 advantage late in the third quarter, but the Lady Tigers offered one last challenge.
Makayla Moise made a steal while falling to her back, and Katie Whited capitalized on the ensuing fast break. Emily Bennett then drained her lone shot of the game from long range.
Kirsten Day finished a Whited assist with 3:27 to play to bring AV within 52-48. Mickan answered with two free throws, and Ayers nailed a mid-range dagger moments later.
Arcadia Valley gathered the early momentum when Landrum opened the game with a 3-pointer and Brockes converted a third shot through contact.
Another offensive carom extended a trip and created a putback for Moise, who equaled Gracee Smith with eight points while collecting eight rebounds.
Mickan sparked her team, however, with a lethal shooting barrage as the Lady Tigers often left her wide open. She also mixed in a driving layup to punctuate the first quarter with a 14-14 tie.
Mickan struck from the left corner, then from the right wing, and again from about four feet beyond the top of the key to continue a 27-7 run.
Her fourth 3-pointer of the second quarter pushed the Lady Panthers toward a 32-25 halftime lead after Whited and Smith had drilled back-to-back triples for Arcadia Valley.
De Soto 73, Fredericktown 39
PARK HILLS – Austin West found a variety of ways to score during a tremendous first half, and De Soto routed Fredericktown 73-39 to win the Central Christmas Tournament consolation crown.
The Dragons (9-7) closed with a 22-4 run over the final 11 minutes, and rattled off their third straight victory after dropping a first-round game to Potosi.
West generated 24 of his 32 points before halftime, including 14 in the first quarter on fast-break layups and accurate jumpers as his squad bolted ahead 21-11.
Fredericktown (5-8) drew within 25-20 on a layup by Logan Winkelman after David Frazier hit two shots off the bench, but could not hang around for long.
Clayton Snudden netted a basket plus the foul after neatly inbounding off an opposing player, and West buried a pair of 3-pointers to help establish a 43-26 cushion.
Winkelman paced the 14th-seeded Blackcats with 12 points, and made the margin 51-35 with two free throws in the third quarter. Grant Shankle and Colton Rehkop each had nine points.
Trevor Johnson contributed 12 points, and Aaron Perron had 11 for De Soto, which shot a solid 54 percent from the field and 14-of-23 at the line.
Ste. Genevieve 49, Potosi 43
PARK HILLS – Senior forward Avery Reed totaled 12 points and 12 rebounds to lift Ste. Genevieve past Potosi 49-43 in the girls consolation final at the Central Christmas Tournament.
The Dragons erased a 10-point deficit, had a decisive advantage on the boards, and converted a superb 23-of-30 free throws in the victory.
Freshman Sydney Bumgardaner provided 11 points for Ste. Genevieve (7-3), and put her team ahead to stay 34-32 on a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter.
Reed extended the lead with a second-chance basket, and freshman Maci Reynolds sank 6-of-8 attempts from the line down the stretch.
Olivia Coleman scored 12 of her game-high 15 points in the first half for Potosi (5-5). Her conventional 3-point play created a 24-14 advantage in the second quarter.
Ste. Genevieve countered with a 9-0 run that Matti Helms capped with her third field goal of the game, and only trailed 26-23 at halftime.
The game featured eight lead changes. The Lady Trojans, who were 10-of-13 at the line, completed the third quarter up 32-31 following a layup by Cameryn Yount.
Reed scored nine points during the final stanza – including a clinching putback in the waning seconds – after previously being held without a made field goal.
Mackenzie Adams and Peyton Blair each had 11 points for Potosi.
North County 42, Smith-Cotton 40
ROLLA, Mo. – The North County girls salvaged a victory on the final day of the Rolla tournament, edging Smith-Cotton 42-40 for seventh place.
Kayleigh Winch powered the Lady Raiders (6-5) with 22 points.
North County suffered earlier losses in the bracket to St. James and St. Clair.