Bruins claim Smith-Cotton championship, MVP

Caraline Trecha

Senior Josh Hayes charges the hoop Dec. 3. The Bruins beat Nixa 77-69 in the Norm Stewart Classic . The boys took first in the Sedalia Smith-Cotton tournament last weekend.
The Branson Bearcats had to cower in the face of aggressive Bruin play during the second half of the Sedalia Smith-Cotton tournament championship game Saturday, Jan. 14. The Bruins ended the night with a 73-56 win, a first place trophy and an MVP for the tourney named senior Jordan Stevens.
Sophomore Jackson Dubinski said despite the Branson team starting off well and the Bruins struggling on defense, the Bruins were able to secure a two-point lead at the end of the first half. In the second half, the Bruins picked up their game, he said, and turned on their defense.  Also, the Bruins started to move the ball around on offense. Their strategy worked.
“I think [senior] Carter [Marcks] led the way [when it came to] scoring, and Jordan shot it well,” said Dubinski, who had seven points and six assists. Senior “Austin [Ray] and Will [Echelmeier] rebounded really well, and towards the end we hit all our free throws to seal the game.”
Ray and Alex Henderson each claimed six rebounds for the Bruin defense. Marcks popped in 15 and Stevens added 14.
To advance to the championship game, the team bashed its host, the Smith-Cotton Tigers, 87-36 Friday, Jan. 13. RBHS controlled the play, with Bruin players sinking 14 three-pointers.
Throughout the first quarter the Tigers tried to slow down the pace, but the Bruins kept the pressure on, and during the second half Ray said the Tigers started to lack defensive stamina; the Bruins saw their chance and didn’t let up.
In the “first half they hung with us because of fouls and [them] making majority of their free throws,” Ray said, “but then second half we came out and ended up winning.”
The day before the Bruins dealt a similar blow to Kansas City East in RBHS’ first game of the tourney. The Tigers found little they could do to stop the Bruins. Led by Corey Haith’s 17 points, as well as Josh Hayes and Ray, who each chipped in 12, and Skylar Miller’s 11, RBHS trounced the Lions 86-36.
“I think we played pretty well,” Dubinski said. “I think everybody ended up getting in to play, and we had really spread scoring.”
Two of the Bruins’ starting guards were injured and did not play in the tournament, which forced the team to make adjustments.
“I think we responded well. Even though [junior] Travis [Jorgenson] and I couldn’t play, our team still did extremely well,” sophomore Nick Norton said. “The special thing about our team is that we’re guys who know how to play. Being able to have multiple shooters makes everyone on the floor tough to guard, and our team really brought defense this weekend.”
The Bruins (15-2) are ranked second in Class 5.
By Caraline Trecha