By KEVIN THOMPSON
SCOTT CITY — If the Beavers hadn't taken off so quickly and established such a big lead early, maybe things would have turned out differently.
But an early strike and unrelenting pressure for 32 minutes proved to be too much for Greeley County to overcome as Scott City played less-than amenable hosts, rolling past the Jackrabbits 66-47 to claim the title once again at the Scott City Invitational.
Scott City (4-0) scored early and often, getting off to a 13-0 lead before Stephen Houston got the Jackrabbits on the board with a three at 3:43. And when the smoke had cleared from the first-period battle, the Beavers held a 25-11 lead.
Credit Greeley County for not letting up, though. Coach Jeff Starkey's team (2-2) eventually got on track and were outscored the rest of the game by only five.
The Beavers forced 14 turnovers in that first half, keeping much of the action on its side of the floor. On the other end, the Beavers limited the Jackrabbits to numerous single field goal attempts, grabbing 11 boards in the quarter, most of them on the defensive end.
Ron Baker started the game on a mission, scoring nine points, boarding three and blocking one shot.
He finished the game with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Brett O'Neil, Braeden Robinson, Joey Meyer and Drew Kite all added 10 points each and totaled 13 boards among them.
That kind of balanced attack pleased coach Glenn O'Neil.
"Our kids have had a good week, including the Goodland game last week," he said. "They've shared the ball well and the defensive pressure has been pretty good."
One of the keys in the game was to strike quickly and early, he said, because he knew how patient the Jackrabbits can be. He didn't want to get into a slower tempo with the team that knocked them out of the winner's bracket a year ago in the semifinals.
The Beavers shot close to 50 percent from the floor, including from all ranges. They hit six 3-pointers and stuck back a number of offensive rebounds.
Braeden Robinson was a perfect 4-for-4, including two of those three's. Winning the free throw contest in the morning helped his confidence, O'Neil said.
Changing looks on offense and defense also helped keep the Jackrabbits in check, he said.
"We're trying to switch a lot of the screens and play some zone, but even with our zone we're trying to be aggressive," he said.
On the other side, the Jackrabbits' Stephen Houston, limited to just a three in the first half, caught fire in the second half, pumping in 14 of his team-high 17 points.
Jonathan Miller and Clay Robertson both added 10.
Preparing for a team like Scott City is not easy, even though everybody knows what they are going to run. Just ask Houston.
"It's hard to prepare for a team like this as long as they are and as good as they are," he said. "They brought a lot of depth. They're a great team."
The fact that his team kept playing hard the entire game is just standard for the Jackrabbits.
Starkey knew his team had to give 100 percent if they were to have a chance in this game.
Both teams, Starkey said, played hard the entire game. That meant that his team got better as the game wore on. Turnovers were down, rebounds up and the score even.
A lot of that was due to Houston's shooting, he said.
O'Neil, Meyer and Baker were named to the all-tournament team, as were Miller and Houston.
Others were Logan Singhisen and Nolan Gaede from Holcomb, Tate Jackson and Grant Ingram from the Wichita Defenders, and Colby Hamel from Lakin.
Miller was named boys most inspirational and Baker boys most valuable player.
See boxscores in Scoreboard, Page B2.