There’s an old saying that a basketball team can sometimes “live or die by the 3-pointer.”
Living by the trey for a significant portion of the contest, the Cabool High School boys squad beat Houston 56-49 in a Missouri High School Activities Association Class 3 District 9 Tournament first-round game last Saturday in Hiett Gymnasium.
Seeded fifth in the 6-team bracket, the visiting Bulldogs came out firing from deep and drilled five 3-pointers in the first quarter to lead 15-13 going into the second period. While holding the fourth-seeded Tigers to only 8 points in the second quarter, Cabool sank four more bombs and held a 33-21 advantage at halftime.
After the two teams traded blows in the third period and each added 9 more points to their total, the Bulldogs went on a 10-2 run to open the fourth quarter to increase their lead to 51-33.
The Tigers kept battling and put together a 14-2 run of their own, and trailed 53-47 with 42 seconds to go after junior center Korbyn Tune grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a short put-back shot.
But the final horn sounded before Houston could do any further damage.
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed,” said Tigers head coach Jim Moore. “Our expectations were to not only win this game, but make a deep run throughout the tournament.”
Sophomore Brody McNew led Houston in scoring with 11 points, while Tune had 10 and Franklin added 8.
Cabool senior guard Trevor Atkins drilled five shots from behind the arc and led all scorers in the game with 22 points, while senior center Jacob Shockley hit three treys and had 11. Senior guard Logan Primanzon and freshman forward Josh Shockley each added 10 for the Bulldogs.
Both teams handled the ball well in the contest, as the Tigers committed 9 turnovers and Cabool had only 6.
The loss was the fifth straight for Houston. The Tigers were back at full strength for the first time in several weeks, but early foul trouble forced Moore to pull both Tune and senior forward Ty Franklin from the floor.
“That cost us,” Moore said, “and we weren’t able to overcome it.”
The Bulldogs nailed nine 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 12.
“We did a good job of keeping them out of the lane and forcing them to shoot from outside 18 feet,” Moore said. “Hats off to them for stepping up and making enough threes to beat us.”
While Cabool shooters scorched the nets with regularity, the Tigers were cold from the field for much of the contest.
“The weather played a huge role in our cold shooting,” Moore said. “We weren’t allowed in the gym early in the week due to the weather and when we were allowed to have optional practice, we had guys who couldn’t be there. We still had our opportunities to win and we didn’t get it done.
“That’s on us and we have to use it as motivation to get better and be better in the future.”
While the Tigers’ fourth-quarter rally came up short, it did fire up the players and home crowd and gave the Bulldogs major cause for concern.
“This team didn’t give up – we wanted the win,” Moore said. “We were going fight for each other until the very end. If we had another minute on the clock, we may have completed the comeback.
“I’m proud of my guys’ effort. We just have to get better.”
The Tigers’ season isn’t over, as they’ll play a pair of South Central Association road games that were postponed due to winter weather. Houston (8-14, 0-4 SCA) traveled to Willow Springs on Tuesday of this week and will take on Salem on a date to be announced.
“We were pretty down after knowing our district championship run was over for this year,” Moore said. “I suspect we will bounce back and play hard the rest of the way. That’s what I expect out of the guys and I don’t see them packing it in.
“We’ll be ready.”