By: Corey Stott
QUEEN CITY, Mo.- 12/5/20- The Scotland County varsity boys basketball team kicked off the season last week in the Tri-Rivers Classic, held at Schuyler County High School. The tournament features the eight teams that made up the Tri-Rivers Conference prior to its dissolution, including Brookfield, Clark County, Knox County, Milan, North Shelby, Putnam County, Schuyler County and Scotland County. The Tigers played three games during the week, featuring an opening round loss to Milan, a consolation semi-final win over North Shelby, and a consolation trophy win over Schuyler County.
Scotland County opened play on Tuesday night with a 79-56 loss to the eventual third place winner, the Milan Wildcats. Junior guard Corbyn Spurgeon had a terrific scoring night with 29 points on 11 buckets, including four three-pointers. Senior Carson Harrison made his presence felt by adding 15 points on five baskets, including a three-pointer. Owen Triplett chipped in five points, Kabe Hamlin four points, Lucas Durflinger two points, and Jared Cerroni one point.
Head coach Jeremy Austin said, “We played pretty well, considering the situation we have been in.” He added that he was “proud of the start to the season” and that he expects the team “to really keep improving.” He was very pleased with the scoring from Spurgeon and Harrison, but said “I know we have a lot more offensive weapons that haven’t fully developed yet. We just need a little more time.”
The Tigers played their second game the very next night on Wednesday. It was a hard fought battle with a scrappy North Shelby team, but Scotland County held on for the 63-58 victory in the consolation semi-final.
Scotland County jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. But the North Shelby defense suddenly became a lot more active halfway through the quarter, and used points off turnovers to take the lead with just over two minutes to play in the period. But the Tigers had great ball movement and got their outside shots to fall, and they had re-taken a 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the Raiders take the lead back early in the period. A combination of Tiger turnovers and hot Raider shooting saw North Shelby extend the lead to 22-15 midway through the period. But the Tiger defense came roaring back to life with full court pressure and points off turnovers saw them head to the locker room with a 25-22 halftime lead.
Scotland outscored North Shelby 19-11 in the third quarter, and led 44-33. It appeared that the Tigers had things well in hand. But the final period saw North Shelby dial up some full court pressure of their own, and this Tiger squad began to show their youth. A rash of Scotland County turnovers saw North Shelby pull even and tie it up at 49 with just over four minutes to play. The game remained within a couple points all the way up to the final seconds, when Scotland County used free throws to put the game away and escape with the 63-58 victory.
Hamlin and Triplett led the Tiger scoring with 16 points apiece. Harrison had 12 points, Spurgeon had 11 points, and Cerroni and Durflinger each had four points apiece.
Coach Austin thought that the Tigers did a lot of good things in the game. “I really thought the whole game came down to the fact that we hit free throws and execute well down the stretch,” he said. “We’ve gotta do a better job of handling some pressure situations.”
The consolation game on Saturday afternoon featured the Tigers and the Schuyler County Rams. The Rams took the opening tip and immediately scored a layup. But the Tigers quickly answered with a three-pointer to take the 3-2 lead early on. But the Tiger shooting immediately cooled off and shots at the rim simply wouldn’t fall. But the Tigers began to finish at the rim and Scotland was up 10-2 with 2:40 to play in the first quarter. The Rams would answer with six more points and the Tigers led 11-8 after one quarter.
The second quarter saw Scotland County again outscore Schuyler 12-9, and the Tigers took a 23-17 lead to the locker room at the half. A balanced offensive attack saw the Tigers outscore the Rams 17-10 in the third period, with five different Scotland County players hitting shots.
The Rams began to get to the foul line more in the final quarter, and outscored the Tigers 21-15. But it wasn’t enough, and Scotland County held on for a 55-48 victory that earned them the consolation prize.
Spurgeon, Hamlin and Triplett led the Tiger offensive attack with 11 points apiece. Cerroni scored eight points, Harrison had six points, Hunter Holt had four points, and Durflinger and Hunter Carter each chipped in two points.
At the conclusion of the tournament, Harrison was named to the Tri-Rivers Classic All-Tournament team. He was joined by Conner Hayes of Knox County, Dominic Dabney of Milan, Beau Kunkel of Brookfield, and MVP Jacob Becker of Knox.
The Tigers sit at 2-1, and will next be in action on Friday night at Putnam County for non-conference action.