Tigers edge out Clinton in district tournament

Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Nevada junior Parker Richardson scores two points during Monday's opening round action in the Class 4 District 12 tournament in Wynn Gymnasium. The Tigers play Webb City at 6 p.m., Thursday in a semi-final game. --Photos by Ralph Pokorny/Daily Mail

The Nevada Tigers varsity basketball team earned their seventh win of the year Monday night in the opening round of the Class 4, District 12 tournament as they defeated the Clinton Cardinals by a final score of 63-58.

The Cardinals came into the night looking to avenge a loss in the first meeting of the two teams early in the regular season.

Nevada found themselves down by as much as 13 points in that contest, but eventually came back to win by a final score of 58-50.

Ryan Bradley had a tremendous offensive effort that night for Clinton as he finished the contest with 24 points. Bradley didn't have quite as strong an effort in Monday's game, but was still able to finish out the night in double figures with 13.

"I know they saw this as an opportunity and they played that way," head coach John McNeley said. "We simply survived."

Nevada opened up the game with a strong start offensively as they jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead by making their first four shots from the field. After that quick jump to start the game, the Tigers quickly slowed down, allowing Clinton to eventually tie the game at 11 before jumping out to a seven-point lead of their own.

Nevada head coach John McNeley talks strategy with his team during a time-out with three minutes left in Monday's game against the Clinton Cardinals.

The remainder of the half proved to be an up-and-down battle between two seemingly even teams. By the time the half came to a close, the two teams had knotted the score on two different occasions and swapped the lead five times.

"This is a team that has had to play from behind a lot," McNeley said. "So I thought we were still OK."

Parker Richardson had a very strong first half offensively and looked as though he would become the star of the game early as he put up 13 first half points. Clinton's Kevin Lafavor finished the half in double figures as well, as he put up 10 of his own.

Neither team really shot well from the field in the first half as Nevada was able to knock down just 34 percent of their shots and the Cardinals didn't have a much better showing, hitting just 41 percent of their field goals.

The second half was another closely contested battle that featured three more ties and 11 lead changes. Nevada found themselves down again in the second half by as much as seven points, but the Tigers were quickly able to recover and kept the game close before eventually taking the lead late in the fourth quarter for the last time.

"We got off to a good start," McNeley said. "But I'll tell you what, they flat out took it to us in the second half."

The Cardinals picked up their intensity on both ends of the floor in the second half and on several occasions looked as though they would be able to put the game away, but the Tigers simply would not be defeated. Nevada continued to play hard and it eventually paid off, giving them a 63-58 victory.

Some confusion between the officials on a late foul gave Ross Wolfe an opportunity at the free-throw line that ultimately allowed him to elevate himself to the game's top scorer while at the same time putting the game away. In the final seconds of the game, Bradley committed a foul away from the ball that originally sent Richardson to the line to shoot two, but the Clinton sideline contested the call and after a short discussion at midcourt, officials determined that Wolfe was to be the shooter.

Wolfe went on to make both shots and gave Nevada a five-point lead that held up for the win. With those two free throws, he was also able to pass Richardson's final point total and finished the contest with 23.

Richardson wasn't far behind, however, as he finished the night with 22. For Clinton, Lafavor finished out the night with a team-high 22, while Logan Porta and Bradley finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively.

With that win, the Tigers improved their record to 7-18 on the season and will now head into the district semi-finals against the top-seeded Webb City Cardinals. That game is set to tip off at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Wynn Gymnasium.

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