By Wade Linville –
The holiday season also brings some exciting high school hoop action, as local teams battle it out for the annual Brown County Holiday Classic Tournament title.
It was Eastern High School playing host to this year’s Brown County Holiday Classic, and in varsity action it was the Eastern Warriors and the Eastern Lady Warriors staking claim to the 2016 Holiday Tournament titles.
The Eastern Warriors became the 2016 Brown County Holiday Classic Tournament champions by topping the Fayetteville-Perry Rockets in round one and going on to defeat the Georgetown G-Men in the championship game on Dec. 30 at Eastern High School.
“The kids played well, and they played hard,” Eastern varsity boys basketball coach Rob Beucler said of his team’s performance in the Holiday Tourney.
It was a championship bout that saw the G-Men rise to an eight-point lead in the first quarter while the Warriors came out to dominate the second half for a 66-46 victory.
There were three Warriors to reach double figures in scoring in the championship win over the G-Men.
Junior Garyn Purdy led the way for the Warriors with 17 points, racking up 10 points in the second half. Purdy also led the Warriors in rebounding with nine boards.
Eastern senior Blake Rigdon and sophomore Marcus Hamilton contributed with 14 points each. Hamilton heated up in the first half, firing for five points in the first quarter and seven points in the second quarter to aid the Warriors to a 34-30 halftime lead.
Rigdon shot for 10 points in the first half, draining one three-pointers, burying three field goals from inside the arc, and connecting on his only attempt from the charity stripe for an old fashioned three-point play.
“I was pleased with the kids in the second half,” Beucler said of his Warriors’ effort in the championship game against Georgetown. “We showed some intensity, and we had some kids to step up and make big plays. It was a good team effort.”
The Warriors struggled to put a stop to Georgetown’s 6’6” sophomore star Noah Pack in the first half of play.
Pack would lead all scorers with 22 points, burying eight-of-nine shots from the field and six-of-11 attempts from the foul line. Pack also pulled down 13 rebounds, recording a double-double in the championship game.
“We didn’t come out and really get after it like we wanted to,” said Beucler. “We knew Pack could hurt us, and he had 17 in the first half so we knew we had to do a better job on him.”
The Warriors, showing more intensity coming off halftime break, held Pack to only five points in the second half.
The G-Men finished with 21 turnovers compared to the Warriors’ 10 turnovers.
The Warriors shot just over 51-percent from the field, sinking 23-of-45 attempts (five-of-eight from three-point range).
The G-Men shot just over 43-percent from the field in the championship game, connecting on 16-of-37 attempts (five-of-13 from three-point range).
The G-Men earned a berth in the Brown County Holiday Classic Tournament championship game by topping the Western Brown Broncos 57-48 in round one of the tournament on Dec. 29. Pack led the way in the Georgetown win with 22 points, while also scoring for double figures was Cameron Brookbank with 13 points.
The Broncos went on to defeat the Fayetteville-Perry Rockets 74-57 in the consolation game to finish third in the tournament. Leading the way for the Broncos in the win was junior guard Clayton Wolfe with 19 points.
Western Brown senior Eli Crall finished with 15 points, while junior teammate Jack Finn finished with 11 points.
Leading all scorers in the consolation game was Fayetteville senior Max Lanham with 21 points, sinking five three-pointers and three shots from inside the arc.
Earning spots on the Brown County Holiday Classic Varsity Boys All-Tournament Team were Purdy, Rigdon, Pack, Fayetteville-Perry junior Zak Smyth, and Western Brown junior Elijah Smith.
The Eastern Lady Warriors cruised to victories over the Fayetteville-Perry Lady Rockets and the Western Brown Lady Broncos to claim their second straight Brown County Holiday Classic Tournament Championship, Dec. 29-30.
This year’s Brown County Holiday Classic was held at Eastern High School Dec. 29-30, and to earn a berth in the championship game it was the Lady Warriors topping the Fayetteville-Perry Lady Rockets 65-37.
The Western Brown Lady Broncos pulled off a 35-32 win over the Georgetown Lady G-Men on Dec. 29, earning a berth in the championship game against the Lady Warriors.
Western Brown junior Bailie Darnall led the Lady Broncos in scoring in the win over Georgetown, finishing with 11 points.
The Lady Warriors jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, going on to hold a 27-10 lead at halftime over the Lady Broncos.
The Lady Warriors came off halftime break to outscore the Lady Broncos 9-8 in the third quarter, and capped off the 26-point victory by outscoring the Lady Broncos 13-5 in the fourth frame.
“I was pretty proud of the kids,” Eastern head coach Kevin Pickerill said of his Lady Warriors following their Brown County Holiday Classic championship win. “It’s hard to bounce back and keep the momentum going from the first night into the second night, but I thought we did that early to try and establish the tempo of the game.”
Leading the way in scoring for the Lady Warriors was Eastern’s 6’1” court star Allison Day with 20 points, sinking 10 shots from the field.
Day was the only player from either team to finish with double figures in scoring.
The Eastern girls squad wasn’t only backed by some hard play from their starters, but they were also aided by some good minutes from players off the bench which played a significant role in the tournament win.
“Both nights I thought our bench was pretty solid,” said Pickerill. “I thought Destinie (Rose) played a real good game, and I also thought Jensen (Sowers) and Camryn (Pickerill) played real good too. So, I’m pretty tickled about our bench.”
Leading the way in scoring for the Lady Broncos were Darnall and Emily Cooper with six points apiece.
In the consolation match for third place, the Fayetteville-Perry Lady Rockets rallied to capture a 49-47 victory over the Georgetown Lady G-Men. It was Fayetteville’s 6’3” freshman Margo Thompson scoring the Lady Rockets’ winning basket.
Leading the way in scoring for the Lady Rockets in the win over Georgetown was Hannah Wiederhold with 14 points.
Fayetteville sophomore Cecilia Murphy finished with 13 points, and senior teammate Taylor Cornett ended the game with 10 points.
Leading all scorers in the consolation game was Georgetown sophomore Kennedy Underwood with 18 points.
Earning spots on the Brown County Holiday Classic Varsity Girls All-Tournament Team were Underwood, Murphy, Western Brown junior Tessa Pinkerton, Day, and Eastern junior Whitney Broughton.
For more on the 2016 Brown County Holiday Classic Tournament action, pick up the Jan. 5 edition of The News Democrat on store shelves now.