BALDWYN – The Smithville Seminoles guaranteed themselves a home playoff game and nearly upset the defending Class 1A champions at the Division 2-1A tournament this week.
Smithville picked up 63-48 and 74-51 wins over Wheeler and Tremont in the first round and semifinal rounds respectively last Monday and Tuesday before falling 79-69 to Ingomar on Friday night.
Friday: Ingomar 79, Smithville 69
Smithville held the lead for much of the first half in its bid to upset Ingomar but saw the Falcons come charging back to put the game away in the second half.
Blake Williams opened up the scoring for the Noles before Ingomar’s Tyson Smithey came back to put them up 6-2. Khirei Standifer and Aden Casey tied the game, and the Noles went back on top after an 8-0 run that included back-to-back threes from Williams and Standifer.
Zach Shugars cut it to four to close the first, but Williams answered twice to get a six-point lead for the Noles. Adin Johnson’s steal and Shugars’ layup tied it once again, and the Falcons continued on an 8-0 run to go up 26-22.
Standifer broke Smithville’s drought, and Williams cut it to one with a free throw. Standifer’s 3-0 run tied the game again with 35 seconds left before Johnson put Ingomar up 30-28 at the half.
Smithey for Ingomar and Jacob Morris for Smithville traded baskets to start the third, but the Falcons had another big run to go up by 14 at 44-30.
Smithville trailed by as many as 15 late in the quarter, but Standifer, Casey and Malik Morrow started to pull them back into the game and get it back to within ten to close the third.
Smithey’s free throws widened the gap to start the fourth before Morris sank a three to cut the lead to single digits at 61-52.
The Falcons got it back out to 15 before back-to-back baskets from Williams and Casey made it 73-63. Standifer’s steal and layup got to within 74-65 with three minutes left, but Ingomar hit key free throws down the stretch to ice the win.
Smithey’s 34 points and 21 rebounds for Ingomar paced all scorers, but Standifer wasn’t far behind him with a team-leading 28 points. Casey with 14, Williams with 13 and Morris with 11 were also in double figures for the Noles.
Tuesday: Smithville 74, Tremont 51
A slow start was just about the only thing working against Smithville’s boys on Tuesday.
The Seminoles recovered from their early slumber and shot 71.1% from the field to knock off Tremont 74-51 in the Division 2-1A Tournament, avenging a regular-season loss to Eagles.
“It was a big win because Tremont is a great team, not taking anything away from them, but we felt like we gave up that regular-season game against them,” Smithville coach D.J. Burress said. “I harped on them to not shoot themselves in the foot, and we did a good job of that.”
Tremont (19-6) opened the game on a 10-1 run, and Burress was forced to call a timeout. The break sparked a 14-4 Smithville run to take a 15-14 lead into the second quarter.
Smithville outscored the Eagles 22-12 in the second quarter for a 37-26 lead at the half.
“I told them we didn’t come here to lose and if you don’t want to lose, you better pick it up now,” Burress said.
Blake Williams and Khirei Standifer, both seniors, came up huge for Smithville. Williams led the way with 20 points on 8 of 10 shooting, and also grabbed five steals.
Standifer added 19 points and five rebounds with a pair of steals.
“It’s great to have a tandem, but it’s even better when they are seniors,” Burress said. “Those two have been starting since they were freshman, so they have have more experience than anybody on the team. Blake’s role in every game is he’s the energy guy. He doesn’t get tired.”
Aden Casey pitched in 17 points and Jacob Morris 13 for Smithville.
Dillon Barnes, Daily Journal
(B) Smithville 63, Wheeler 48: The Noles battled through an injury to Khirei Standifer early in the third quarter but got big second half performances from Blake Williams and Aden Casey to open up a double-digit lead.
Williams had 18 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, while Casey and Standifer scored 11 points each.
“I always stress that the first four minutes of the third is very important because we had a few situations where we could have stretched it out but made mistakes to let them keep hanging around,” Smithville coach D.J. Burress said. “I told them we had to do whatever we can to stretch the game out because if you let them keep hanging around, you can get beat. Blake and Aden had to step up there, and that’s what I was impressed with because when Khirei went out, they had every opportunity to lay down, but that was a turning point in the game.”
(G) Wheeler 58, Smithville 39: The Lady Noles hung in the game early, despite missing leading scorer Orlandria Smith, trailing by just one at the end of the first quarter.
Smithville was held to just three points in the second on an Abby Robertson three with 1:36 left in the first half and trailed the Lady Eagles 29-14 at the half.
Robertson and Chloe Summerford each hit threes in the third, and Makenzie Adams took a steal to the hoop, but Wheeler carried a 20-point lead at 43-23 into the final quarter.
Robertson hit another trio of threes in the fourth, and Summerford hit another one as well. The two finished as Smithville’s leading scorers with 15 points for Robertson and 14 for Summerford.