Tigers advance to KANGI title tilt, Lady Tigers to play for third-place
FRONTENAC, Kan. — The Nevada Tiger varsity basketball team continued its torrid stretch of play, steamrolling Fort Scott (Kan.) High School, 72-58 in the semifinals of the Kansas Army National Guard Invitational (KANGI) Friday evening.
The contest went back-and-forth for much of the first half, with No. 4 seed Nevada grabbing its first lead of the night (21-18) via Lane McNeley’s second quarter three from the right wing.
Fort Scott, the tournament’s No. 8 seed, trailed the rest of the way, as Nevada built a 34-27 halftime advantage, due in part to Logan Applegate’s triple as time expired in the first half.
Nevada came out red-hot in the second half, and built a 16-point lead at 49-33 with 3:30 remaining in the third.
Fort Scott had no answers for Applegate, as the sophomore point guard’s fifth trey of the evening handed Nevada a 55-38 advantage with two minutes to go in third.
Nevada continued to pour it on, upping its lead to 21 via Matt Thompson’s two-handed jam, followed by a Carter Swearingen coast-to-coast lay-in. From there, Nevada had little trouble putting away Fort Scott, en route to their second consecutive KANGI title game appearance.
Nevada (11-5) was paced by Applegate’s game-high 23 points, while Dalton Gayman added 21, and Thompson 16.
“Our success all started with our defensive effort — and with the job that Logan McNeley, Lane McNeley and Noah Cheaney did defending Fort Scott’s best player,” said Nevada head coach Shaun Gray of Nick Lawrence, who was held to just eight points on the night. “We held him very much in check throughout the duration of the game.”
Added Gray: “We moved the ball well, and found the open man tonight. Our shooters had great shot selection, and we were able to hit a high percentage of our long-range attempts. Logan Applegate had the hot-hand from distance (five three’s), and our guys did a good job of finding him open looks.”
Added Gray: "Our guys were able to switch between man and zone effectively on the defensive end to help keep for Scott off-balance in the second half. Fort Scott’s zone did a good job of limiting our inside touches early. We did a good job of moving the ball and finding the open shooters against it — which forced Fort Scott to go back to man.
"Matthew and Dalton were again a tough inside-outside duo. Dalton shot it well from outside early for us, which keyed our start, and both guys scored around the basket, and were big on the boards.
The victory was Nevada seventh in a row, as they advance to the KANGI title tilt, and a matchup with the third-seeded Webb City Cardinals. Tip off is slated for 4:30 p.m., today at Frontenac High School.
“Webb City will be a big challenge for us,” said Gray. “They have a ton of team-speed and athleticism. It will be some of the strongest, most physical basketball we will have played against all season. Alex Gaskill and Terrel Karbala are elite athletes that attack the rim well. They have good shooters around him. They will (utilize) a lot of full-court pressure and will trap in both the full and half-court. We will have to be strong with the ball, and will need to use fakes to move the defense."
Summed up Gray: "Keys to victory will be — first and foremost, taking care of the ball. Also, stopping the ball in transition, keeping Karbala and Gaskill limited, and rebounding the ball against their physicality. It will be a fun game, and will make us better, going against a team of athletes with speed like Webb has."
The second-seeded Nevada Lady Tigers, meanwhile, were upended for the second time this season by No. 3 Mount Vernon, falling 65-42 in the girls’ KANGI semifinals Friday night.
Nevada (12-3) is slated to square off with Christian Heritage Academy (Okla.) in the third-place game, set for today at noon.