DODGE CITY — The bottom line for the Scott City Beavers was to leave United Wireless Arena and the 70th Tournament of Champions with at least two wins in the three-day tournament.
And when the Beavers left the floor on Saturday after knocking off a gritty Dodge City Red Demon team, 60-51 to claim third place at the TOC, coach Glenn O’Neil had his desired outcome.
With the victory, O’Neil won his 450th career game, two years after the Beavers handed him his 400th win in the same tournament.
“With the quality of the teams in the tournament, we’ll take 2-1,” O’Neil said. “Had we gone 3-0, that would have been special.”
The victory over the Red Demons (5-5) was a bit of redemption after the teams had met in the championship game in 2011 with Dodge rallying from an 11-point deficit to beat Scott City, 62-58, in the final TOC game played at the Civic Center.
But the Beavers gathered themselves and responded in kind.
They finished the game off with a 6-2 run to close out the victory.
“I was having a flashback of two years ago,” coach O’Neil said when asked when he was comfortable. “I wasn’t comfortable until the buzzer. They made some shots, we didn’t cover a couple of times, but we did enough.”
There was no evidence of any lingering hangover effects of the Beavers’ 67-63 overtime loss from Friday night’s semifinal battle against Wichita North.
“In no unpleasant terms this morning, I gave the kids a pretty good explanation of taking care of the ball,” coach O’Neil said. “We hadn’t done a good job of that (turnovers), but we were certainly better most of the game.”
After averaging nearly 20 turnovers in the first two days of the TOC, the Beavers committed just 11 miscues against the Demons, and only one in the opening half when they were able to build a 32-21 advantage. Despite that margin, the Beavers were outrebounded 16-10 by the Demons.
“We had some lapses rebounding the ball, but did a better job in the second half,” coach O’Neil said.
Midway through the first quarter, with the Beavers clinging to an 8-6 lead, senior wingman Austin Habiger got the hot-hand once again from 3-point range.
Noted for his long-range sharpshooting, Habiger drained three 3-pointers in a matter of 2 minutes, 18 seconds to jump-start the Beavers and give them a 19-8 lead by quarter’s end.
The Beavers built their lead to as many as 15, twice, with the final one at 25-10.
The third quarter saw the teams battle on near-even terms before heading to the critical fourth, with the Beavers on top 45-33.
When Joey Meyer made a layup with 4:25 remaining in the game, providing the Beavers a 52-39 lead, things seemed to be in good hands for the two-time defending 3A state champions.
But the Red Demons wouldn’t go quietly. Before Gross hit his 3-pointers, Rashaan Taylor scored on a driving layup and Gross got a close-in bucket off an inbounds pass play.
Drew Kite, who made 8-of-11 field goals, led the Beavers’ offense with 21 points and Brett O’Neil was next with 15, including 9-of-12 free throws. The Beavers cashed in 17-of-22 at the charity stripe.
For Dodge City (5-5), Gross led the way with 18 points and Matt Goedeken added 15.
The Beavers hit a solid 50 percent from the field (20-of-40) while holding Dodge City to 38 percent (19-of-50)
“It’s good to see us handle things at the end, it’s something we’ve kind of struggled with at times,” coach O’Neil said. “These were good games, good experiences for us to take home. We’ll look at film, show the kids what they need to be doing better. We’ve got things to improve on, but we’re not far away from where we were at this stage a year ago.”
That bodes well for the Beavers and not so well for their opponents for the rest of the regular season and upcoming early March sub-state. The Beavers are right back in regular-season play on Tuesday when they travel to Lakin to face the Broncs in a non-league contest.
In other final day action at the TOC, Derby rolled past Newton 64-42 in the fourth place game and Wichita South held off Buhler 55-49 for seventh place.
Notes: Sophomore guard Trey O’Neil sat out Saturday’s game, still recovering from a dislocated kneecap suffered in Thursday’s opening game win over Derby. Coach O’Neil said his youngest son would be kept out of the Tuesday game at Lakin, but hoped that he would be available for a Friday home game against Liberal.
Midway through his 17th season at Scott City, O’Neil is now 289-101 with the Beavers, a winning percentage of .741. He has guided the Beavers to three state championships (2006-Class 4A, 2011-Class 3A, 2012-Class 3A). The Beavers’ only other state boys basketball championship came in 1958 (Class A, when Kansas had just four classifications).
Scott City 19 13 13 15 — 60
Dodge City 8 13 12 18 — 51
Scott City (60) — B. O’Neil 3-8 9-12 15, B. Meyer 0-0 1-2 1, Hess 2-5 0-0 4, Habiger 3-7 0-0 9, Wilson 1-5 0-0 2, J. Meyer 3-3 2-2 8, Kite 8-11 5-6 21. Totals 20-40 17-22 60.
Dodge City (51) — Taylor 1-2 0-0 2, Oldham 0-2 1-2 1, Norton 0-2 0-0 0, Gross 8-13 0-2 18, Weiser 2-3 2-2 7, Doan 0-6 0-0 0, Newton 1-5 0-0 2, Larson 2-8 4-8 8, Goedeken 5-9 1-2 13. Totals 19-50 8-16 51.
3-point goals—Scott City 3-13 (B. O’Neil 0-2, Hess 0-1, Habiger 3-6, Wilson 0-4). Rebounds—Scott City 30 (Hess 7), Dodge City 28 (Gross 8). Turnovers—Scott City 11, Dodge City 10. Assists—Scott City 16 (B. O’Neil 6), Dodge City 13 (Newton 3, Goedeken 3). Block shots—Scott City 5 (Kite 3), Dodge City 0. Steals—Scott City 7 (Hess 4), Dodge City 6 (Oldham 2). Fouls—Scott City 15, Dodge City 20. Fouled out—none. Technical fouls—Scott City (Kite).