The top-seeded South Gray Rebels survived poor play and a determined Spearville Lancers team Tuesday, winning 53-41 and continuing on into the semifinals of the 2019 SPIAA League Tournament.
They’ll take on Hodgeman County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Spearville will play a consolation game against Minneola at 3 p.m. Friday.
For the Lancers, junior Carson Rich had a team-high 12 points. Senior Jaedon Pedigo had 11.
For South Gray, sophomore Arron Skidmore had 22 points. Sophomore Ethan Salmans had 12, and senior Clifton Miller had 11.
The score was 6-2 in favor of South Gray at the end of the first quarter, and 23-8 at halftime, but it was a game the defending state champion and undefeated Rebels (12-0) never fully controlled in the way they have many other games this season. A 3-pointer by Spearville freshman Kolten Bennett cut the South Gray lead to just five with under 3 minutes left, and made the score 46-41. From there, the Rebels were able to close the door with free-throw shooting, dropping the Lancers to 5-7.
South Gray head coach Mark Applegate said Spearville coach Chris Sohm had a great game plan going into Tuesday night, and his boys executed, which focused on ball control and slowing the game down.
“And it worked,” Applegate said. “We shot too quick when we got the ball, and didn’t make them, and he held onto the ball for a while. It was just a great game plan, it really was. They played it really well, and we didn’t play very well. That’s the bottom line.
“We’ve got to be more patient when teams do that, because when teams do that you’re going to have half the possessions that you normally have, so when you get the ball you’ve got to cherish it. You’ve got to make it count,” Applegate said. “That’s just what we’re going to try and take away from it.”
Salmans hit a couple of 3-pointers early in the second quarter that helped the Rebels start to get going offensively. He opened the scoring in the quarter with one of them, making the score 9-2, then added another after Spearville senior Cole Stephenson made a 2-point shot.
“They were double-teaming (senior Austin) Jantz and Miller and that left some people open,” Applegate said. “We had to have some people knock some shots down and they’re quite capable of doing that, they just have to have the confidence to do it.”
Hodgeman County now is looming on the team’s path to a potential tournament title.
“They’re athletic, they’ve got (senior Thatcher Lackey) on the inside — it’s going to be tough to guard,” Applegate said. “I don’t know, we’re just going to have to execute a lot better.”