The host Waynesville High School boys’ basketball team followed up a disappointing performance on Friday to wrap up the Route 66 Shootout Pulaski County USA with an impressive victory.
The Tigers broke even in the shootout, falling to McCluer North 64-48 on Friday and knocking off a huge St. Louis Christian Academy squad 56-41 on Saturday.
The two-day event featured 13 games involving a total of 21 teams.
Waynesville, ranked No. 8 in last week’s Missouri Class 5 state poll, is now 5-1.
“We probably played as poorly as we can play on Friday,” said Waynesville head coach Chris Pilz. “And (on Saturday) our guys came out and played really hard. St. Louis Christian is very athletic and beat a really good St. Joseph Lafayette team on Friday.”
Now the Tigers prepares to defend their championship in the Rolla High School/US Bank Holiday Invitational, to be held Thursday through Saturday. Waynesville is to play St. Joseph Benton at 6 p.m. in first-round action on Thursday at Missouri S&T’s Bullman Building. Thursday’s and Friday’s boys’ bracket will be played at S&T, with Saturday’s games moving to the Rolla High gym.
Waynesville 56, St. Louis Christian 41: After suffering their first loss of the season the previous night, the Tigers took on perhaps the only team on their schedule who is physically larger than they are, as the St. Louis prep school boasted 6-10 junior Diallo Aboubacar and 6-10 junior Sonny Djokovic as well as a pair of 6-7 players in junior Anthony Pratt and senior Jacob Mandura.
But it was one of the smallest players on the court - Waynesville 5-9 sophomore guard Joe Johnson - who stood the tallest Saturday.
Johnson canned 5-of-8 field goal attempts, 12-of-13 free throw attempts and finished with a game-high 23 points.
“That was a good basketball team we beat,” Pilz said. “I was pleased with the effort. After Friday I thought we were probably going to win Saturday; we put in a lot of preparation to be a good basketball team and you could see on their faces they were real responsive to what we told them. The mark of a good team is to make corrections on the fly and we were able to do that (Saturday).
“Our guards are a work in progress. The thing we have going in our favor is we have 6-8 and 6-7 guys who can handle the ball well and help them. But on Saturday our four guards definitely played really well.”
On Saturday it was a low-scoring first period, as Waynesville took a 7-4 edge into the second quarter. Each team scored 18 points in the second period, with the Tigers going into intermission up 25-22.
Page 2 of 2 - The St. Louis Christian Cougars, now 4-5, trimmed their deficit to 34-32 heading into the fourth period.
However, Johnson and the Tigers took over in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Cougars 22-9 in the period to pull away.
Kellieon Williams, a 6-7 senior forward, added 14 points and six rebounds while 6-8 junior forward Juwan Morgan had 12 points, 11 boards and three steals.
No Cougar scored in double figures.
McCluer North 64, Waynesville 48: In a battle of state-ranked teams the McCluer North Stars, ranked No. 7 in Class 5, blew out to a 8-0 lead and never trailed on Friday.
The Stars canned three 3-pointers in the first period and charged to a 21-11 lead entering the second stanza. Morgan picked up his third foul with 2:19 left in the first half and the Tigers trailed by as much as 14 points in the first half.
McCluer North went into halftime up 33-24.
A 10-2 run to open the third period gave the Stars some cushion. A layup by 6-3 junior DeMonte Morris at the 4:45 mark of the third period gave the Stars a 43-26 advantage.
The Tigers trailed by as much as 20 points in the fourth period.
“They have a lot of good players,” Pilz said of McCluer North. “But anytime Morgan is off the floor it’s probably not a good thing for us.
“We’ve got to work on playing smarter. One thing we found out Friday was a sophomore, (6-3 forward) Cedric Williams, stepped up and played very well. And we put him back in there and he helped us on Saturday.”
Morgan led Waynesville with 14 points while Johnson added 12.
Four Stars scored in double figures, led by 5-11 senior all-state guard Rashad Lindsey with 19