FREEBURG — The Civic Memorial Eagles couldn't quite get over the hump against the Southwestern Piasa Birds Monday at the Freeburg-Columbia Holiday Tournament.
CM never trailed by more than 10 points, but never led in the second half against Southwestern, on its way to a 53-49 loss.
It sets up a showdown against Marquette in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday for the Eagles, a rematch from Dec. 2 when the Explorers prevailed 45-43 in overtime. The Piasa Birds meet the Columbia Eagles in the title tilt at 8 p.m. after Columbia beat Marquette in the other semifinal on Monday.
CM dropped to 7-5 with the loss, snapping a four-game winning streak. Southwestern improved to 8-1 with the victory.
Oddly enough the four-point deficit was the biggest the Eagles had lost by all season, but head coach Doug Carey didn't necessarily think his team played exceptionally well on Monday. He didn't think the score was indicative of the game.
“That one wasn't as close as the score indicated,” Carey said. “When you shoot 31 percent (16 of 51) from the field, you're not going to win very many games. We were just throwing up a lot of shots that had no chance of going in tonight. We've got to shoot better than that to win games.”
The Piasa Birds had a plan to take Central Missouri recruit Jakob Lowrance away and they succeeded at their task. Lowrance was limited to seven points. Brett Lane led the Eagles in scoring with nine points.
“We kind of stuck everything in stopping him and not letting him beat us and I think it paid off for us tonight,” Southwestern head coach Jason Darr of Lowrance. “We put together some things to make sure we had two guys on him at all times except when he was on the perimeter. Then we had a kid, Briston Johnson, who did a great job keeping the ball out of his hands. I thought defensively we were really good, but on offense we could have been better.”
The two teams found themselves in a stalemate for much of the first half. After building a 9-3 lead on a 3-pointer by Adam Hill at the 4:09 mark of the first quarter, CM saw the Piasa Birds knot it up at 9-9 at the conclusion of the opening frame.
The Eagles led 17-15 with 3:26 to play in the second quarter and were tied 19-19 with 1:40 left, but a 3-pointer by Justin Bailey sent the Piasa Birds into the break with a 22-19 lead.
CM could never draw even, or grab a lead the rest of the way. The Eagles dwindled it to a one possession game at 41-38 with 2:40 to play in the game when David Lane buried a pair of free throws, but Southwestern answered quickly.
Johnson came back down the court, scored and drew the foul, completing the traditional 3-point play to lift it to 44-38 in favor of the Piasa Birds. Southwestern then scored the next four points to expand the lead to 48-38.
“Down three we would have had the ball in a one possession game, but we didn't box out (on Johnson),” Carey said. “I'll have to look at the film to see exactly what happened there, but we did a terrible job of boxing out tonight. Letting (Tyler) Rose go right every time when everybody knows he's going to go right when he gets in the post, but we just let him do it and he had 16 points and the Johnson kid had 16 points. We've got to do a better job of understanding what they're doing and stopping it.”
Darr added about Johnson, “He was big in this game. We kind of jumped on his back in the second half and he was able to help us through it. We let (Brandon Hampton) get away from us there at the end and we talked about him and his ability to shoot the three. We weren't real focused, but we pulled it out in the end hitting some free throws and we made it happen and that's the bottom line.”
Johnson and Rose paced the Piasa Birds with 16 points apiece.
Carey said the Eagles will turn their attention to the rematch with Marquette now and hopefully there is no letdown from Monday's loss.
“We've got to make sure (Shandon Boone) doesn't go crazy tomorrow night and guard him the way we should,” Carey said. “We've got to step up and hit a few more shots. I think we're a little bit different team we were the last time we played them the first time. We're playing a few more guys with some experience, so we'll see what happens. Both teams are going to come in disappointed because they didn't make the championship, but it's a game and you've got to win it.”
FREEBURG-COLUMBIA HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
SOUTHWESTERN 53, CIVIC MEMORIAL 49
Southwestern 9 13 12 19 — 53
Civic Memorial 9 10 11 19 — 49
Civic Memorial (7-5) — Caleb Buhs 4, Zach Lehnen 4, Brett Lane 9, Adam Hill 5, Jakob Lowrance 7, Brandon Hampton 6, Brenden Ricci 3, David Lane 7, JaQuan Adams 4. 2FG — 10 3FG — 6 FT — 11 PF — 15
Southwestern (8-1) — Briston Johnson 16, Collin Baumgartner 9, Tyler Rose 16, Andrew Fry 2, Blake Lawson 6, Justin Bailey 3. 2FG — 14 3FG — 4 FT — 12 PF — 11