JQH Arena on the campus of Missouri State was the site for opening day action of the Show Me Showdown Thursday evening. Class 1 Final Four action took place with a pair of exciting games and big time performances.
The first semi-final was a re-match of last year’s championship game that saw Jefferson Conception take down Dora and take home the hardware. With both teams returning most of their rosters, the Falcons from Dora had revenge on their minds and rode an impressive offensive performance to an 82-66 victory and berth in today’s championship game.
In the nightcap, St. Elizabeth’s made their return to Springfield after last year’s 3rd place showing to take on Golden City and their talented back-court. In the end, the size of St. Elizabeth was too much to handle and they advance to the championship game with a 67-58 win.
Here’s a look at the standout performers from opening night:
: Isaac is already making himself very much at home in JQH (his future home) and put up a tremendous 38 point, 13 rebound performance in Dora’s semi-final win. While he knocked down a couple from long range, Haney’s three-ball wasn’t dropping at its usual clip. He improvised by attacking the rim and the glass with relentless intensity. He can get by nearly any defender off the bounce, is sneaky strong and athletic, and finishes with craft. He also lived at the free throw line where he converted at a high clip.
Mason Luna: Mason came up huge with 19 points that was largely thanks to an incredible effort on the defensive end and on the glass. He came up with several steals that turned into transition lay-ups and a number of put-backs after offensive rebounds.
: Auston made his mark on the game in nearly every way. When holding down point guard duties, he broke pressure with ease and made plays whether that meant dropping dimes or scoring it himself. He had multiple deflections and steals and was a big presence on the glass.
Waylon Masters: Waylon did a nice job of controlling the paint and protecting the rim. He was a volume rebounder throughout. Had a pair of scores inside, knocked down a short corner jumper, and converted from the free throw line pitching in 8 points.
Platte Valley (Jefferson Conception Junction) Eagles:
Trever McQueen: Trever kept the Eagles very much in the game with a brilliant 17 point first half performance. He knocked down three first quarter three-pointers from the exact same spot in the corner. From there, he made adjustments to hard close-outs and was able to drive the ball into the paint and score it effectively.
Clayton Merrigan: Clayton had a complete game that may have ended in a double double. He had 15 points on the night and I admittedly lost count at 7 assists. He was a very effective passer in transition and from the elbow. Knocked down a catch and shoot three. Went on a run of rip and go finishes from the high post to either side.
: The big man in the middle only had 6 points on the night but served a big role in protecting the rim. He was key on the glass and most importantly by blocking, altering, and deterring drives by Dora’s relentless offensive attack.
St. Elizabeth Hornets:
: Mr. Fundamental was at it again and was dominant inside with a 26 point, 10 rebound performance in the Hornets semi-final win. He is automatic over his left shoulder and did a fantastic job of getting position on his seals to simply drop step and convert time and time again. He scored over double teams, owned the glass, and had a highlight worthy one-hand behind the head dime while falling out of bounds that you’d have to see to believe.
Brock Lucas:Brock is one to keep an eye on. He was tough in transition and off the bounce. The shifty wing scored off the euro-step, split doubles, and finished strong at the rim throughout. He got into double figures, scoring 10 points in the win.
Brady Heckemeyer: Brady had a near double-double, finishing with 10 points and 8 rebounds. His size proved a tough match-up for Golden City. He did most of his work in the paint, converting on drop step finishes, knocking down short bank shots, and operating back to basket.
: Nolan pitched in 10 points of his own in the victory. Knocked down a rhythm jumper, had a nice wrap-around finish, and converted well around the rim.
Golden City Eagles:
: The sensational scoring guard gave a valiant effort for Golden City, finishing with a team high 23 points in the loss. He might be small, but he is a slasher and finisher at the cup. He knifes his way through traffic in impressive fashion and uses hangtime, body, and ball control to convert some acrobatic finishes on his drives.
Lane Dunlap: Lane played big and strong for Golden City, who was in need of some physicality against a large St. Elizabeth’s team. He gave great effort inside, converting through contact and finishing over larger defenders. Jumped a passing lane for a transition lay-up. Knocked down a big catch a shoot three from the wing. Finished with 15 points.
Chain Parrill: Chain knocked down a trifecta of triples from long range and also showed his chops as a slasher. He had a nifty up and under scoop score and used a quick first step to blow by a defender and used a nice side step move before finishing at the rim. He had 14 points for the game.