Cougars pull away from Liberal in second half, claim first district title in program history – Joplin Globe

Posted: February 28, 2021 at 10:39 pm

WEBB CITY, Mo. The College Heights Christian boys basketball team came out of the locker room at halftime and simply refused to be denied its first district championship in program history.

After trailing 33-27 at halftime, 3-seed College Heights outscored 1-seed Liberal 42-12 in the second half to come away with a 69-45 triumph in the Class 2 District 12 boys championship game inside the Cardinal Dome at Webb City High School on Friday night.

The district boys basketball title marked College Heights first since becoming a member school of MSHSAA in 1998. It was also the Cougars first time to compete in a district championship game.

College Heights plays Crane in a Class 2 sectional at Carthage High School on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Im really excited for these kids and the school, College Heights coach Eric Johnson said. Just being here had us a little nervous in the first half because weve never been in this situation before. But we didnt really chew them out at halftime. We just told them this is what we need to do better, and they went out and did it.

The pivotal run started immediately in the second half when College Heights opened the third quarter with eight straight points. A layup in transition by Miller Long tied the game at 33-33 less than two minutes into the period, and then the Cougars took the lead on their next possession on a putback basket by Long.

Long, who finished with 19 points, had 12 points in the third quarter as College Heights outscored Liberal 21-4 for a 48-37 lead into the fourth stanza.

College Heights led by as many as 27 points in the final period before settling for the 24-point win.

The intensity picked up on our end (in the second half), Johnson said. We extended our defense even more that we did in the first half. They were shooting from 25 feet instead of the 20 they were shooting from in the first half.

The physical presence the Cougars established in the paint also wore down the Bulldogs as the night wore on. Big men Curtis Davenport and Hagen Beck standing at 6-foot-5 and 6-4, respectively finished with 21 and 18 points, respectively.

Im not going to lie, this feels awesome, Davenport said. I mean, I was really nervous before the game. I had butterflies in my stomach. I honestly felt like I was going to throw up. You just have to turn it on and use that. Just tell yourself that youre ready to go and ready to face anything that is thrown at you out there.

We didnt have the best first half, but we were going to come out and change that. Our coach, Steve Harrel, told us that were a good third-quarter team and were going to blow the doors off these guys. We went out and outscored them like 42-12 in the second half.

College Heights drew first blood in the game with a 5-0 run that included a triple by Long and a layup in traffic by Beck. But Liberal went on to make five 3s in the opening period Caleb Suschnick accounting for three of the triples as it built a 17-14 lead entering the second quarter.

The shots continued to fall for Liberal in the second period as the Bulldogs went on a 12-4 run to take a 29-18 lead with 3:46 remaining in the half. The surge saw Gunner Miller score five straight points before Kale Marti punctuated the run with a seal and transition layup.

The Cougars refused to go away, however. A quick 7-0 surge trimmed the deficit to four points after a putback basket by Beck. and after a made free throw and another 3 for Liberal, College Heights Ethan Adel ended the half with a 2-point floater to make it a six-point ballgame at halftime.

Contact Jared Porter on Twitter at @JaredRyanPorter.

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Cougars pull away from Liberal in second half, claim first district title in program history - Joplin Globe

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