Massac County completes sweep
Patriots win title, 68-59 over host Indians; Red Bud nips Cairo
DUQUOIN – Most championship basketball teams excel in the skills that it takes to win.

Usually they can rebound the ball, play strong defense to get important stops and hit free throws, especially in the clutch.

On Saturday night at the DuQuoin “Tip-Off Classic” Coach Joe Hosman's Massac County Patriots checked off “all of the boxes.”

His squad took care of the glass by out-rebounding the host Indians, 27-19.

They forced DQ into 14 turnovers on the defensive end.

And, of equal importance, cashed in on 17-of-20 foul shots; including seven consecutive in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots' 68-59 title game triumph improved their overall mark to 5-0 on the season and 4-0 in the 22nd annual tournament.

Last season Massac County shared its first DQ title with Cairo but this season the Patriots left no doubt.

Having bested the Pilots earlier in the day (67-51) Coach Hosman's club showed little in the signs of double-header fatigue as they handled everything the Indians threw at them in the title game win.

“It was a great week for us to go 5-0. We won a game at the Marshall County Hoopfest and come back here and play a fifth game in six days,” said Coach Hosman. “I was proud of how the kids persevered and kept working. They have a lot of heart. We have four kids that started late last year for us and we have good depth. It was a good win.”

Balanced scoring was another factor in the Patriots victory as four different players contributed double-figures in scoring.

Six-foot-two senior Julian Russell led the way with 17 points while senior guard Zach Travis tossed in 13.

Senior guard Jase Mizell (11) and junior guard JJ Sweat (10) provided more offensive help.

Six-foot-five junior forward Kaleb Ramer added eight points as the Patriots proved that they have many offensive weapons.

Coach Jason James saw his Indians fall, despite a pretty good shooting night overall and 25-points from 6-foot-4 senior forward Braeden Pursell.

Junior guard Brian Winters added 13 points and senior guard Kaden Mays added 11 points to the book.

“They (DuQuoin) put a lot of pressure on us. Pursell is a nice player and they hit some shots but it was a big win for us,” said Coach Hosman.

But there was an “Achilles Heel” for the hosts on this night, and it help prove their undoing as the Indians saw their overall and tournament mark slip to 2-2.

DQ was just 5-of-11 from the foul line in the game.

The Indians were slightly better from the floor than Massac County in shooting numbers as they hit 26-of-50 while the Pats were 25-of-50.

But the rebounding spread and the foul line were difference makers.

DuQuoin made several nice offensive runs in the game but most were when they were behind trying to rally.

Pursell got the Indians going early, netting eight of his points in the first quarter.

He was part of two transition baskets, getting an assist on one score by Winters and also cashing in a lay in to give his team a 12-9 lead with under a minute left in the quarter.

Massac County got early offense from five different players as they proved very difficult to defend.

Five-foot-nine junior Tragen Keyes scored six points in the game for Coach Hosman and he added an early basket.

Ramer closed the quarter with a basket to cut the Indians' lead to 12-11.

Massac got the lead back with a couple of quick baskets by Russell and Mizell before putting together the first big run of the championship game.

The Patriots' 10-2 move, with McIntosh scoring four of the points on a basket and a pair of free throws, gave the club a 25-18 lead with 3:35 left before halftime.

After DuQuoin sophomore guard Jaden Smith scored his only points of the night with a 3-pointer from the right wing, Massac closed the second quarter with Russell scoring five points on a drive to the basket for a three-point play and two additional free throws for a 28-23 advantage at the break.

The Patriots canned 8-of-9 free throws in the first 16 minutes of play.

“Right now, after our fifth game, we are shooting about 86 percent from the free throw line. Right now it's the best free throw shooting team I've ever had,” said Coach Hosman.

Coach Hosman saw his club survive some storms in the second half .

Pursell scored seven straight points for the Tribe, but Massac answered each bell.

Another Patriots' scoring burst (12-2) gave them their first double-digit lead.

McIntosh, Mizell and Sweat all scored in the run.

Mizell canned a pair of shots from the right wing and McIntosh made a couple of inside moves for scores.

Sweat closed the sprint with a driving baseline bucket for a 42-30 lead with 2:19 remaining in the third quarter.

DuQuoin got a 3-pointer from Winters and a conventional three-point play from Mays with :02.4 left.

However a defensive lapse on the ensuing inbounds play allowed Massac County to score.

Travis sprinted towards the basket and he caught a long pass in stride.

His lay in beat the buzzer, sending the teams to the fourth quarter at 46-36 Patriots.

The visitors took their biggest lead of the game early in the final stanza.

Russell added a basket and Travis nailed the Patriots only 3-pointers of the game during an 8-2 beginning of the quarter push.

The trifecta gave Massac a 54-38 lead with 6:16 left.

Then DuQuoin's last big run occurred.

The Indians put together 11 unanswered points to get to within five.

Winters scored five of the points with an “And-One” on a nice drive to the basket and two additional free throws.

Winters added a bucket as did junior forward Wade Roberson.

When Pursell drove in for a score, suddenly the Indians trailed just 54-49 with 4:43 left.

As it turned out, that was final DQ run.

Massac County smartly went to a spread offense and they scored on three drives to the basket.

Sweat delivered the first lay in and Travis converted two in succession.

Travis ended the drama with two more free throws with 1:00 left.

“We cut the lead down late and then we forced a shot from the right side and then forced a three on back-to-back plays. Then they make free throws,” said Coach James. “I'm proud of the kids effort the way they battled.”

The Indians could have inched a bit closer, but a Winters' basket on a drive was their final points.

Pursell, who ended up just 1-of-7 from the foul line, missed four consecutive in the last :45.7.

The Patriots grabbed the fourth missed charity toss and ran out the clock for a championship win.

Massac County did commit 11 turnovers but they were spread out with no more that three in any frame.

“Our seniors put together five words for this year about what we've put it up in our lockerroom, this is what we are and this is what we believe in. Championships, Winners, Discipline, Teamwork and Family,” said Coach Hosman. “That is the way these guys are playing this year.”

Both teams get a few days off before getting right into conference play.

The Patriots travel to Ohio Division rival Murphysboro on Friday and then they will make a trip on Saturday to take on non-conference foe Marion.

DuQuoin with head to Mississippi Division cohort Carterville on Friday night and then they will host non-conference Murphysboro the following night.

“He (Purcell) had a great offensive game and we did a good job of looking for him,” said Coach James. “But I wish we would have made better stops on the other end. We let that one kid (Travis) drive down the lane and get three buckets. But our team isn't going to give up. We have to keep battling and keep fighting. That is how we are going to play. Go out and be aggressive.”

Massac County

Massac County (68) – Travis 4 1 2-2 13, Mizell 3 0 5-5 11, Russell 7 0 3-4 17, Ramer 1 0 1-3 3, Sweat 3 0 4-4 10, Keyes 3 0 0-0 6, McIntosh 3 0 2-2 8.
2FG-24, 3FG-1, FT-17-20, PF-9.

DuQuoin (59) – Edwards 0 0 0-0 0, Mays 4 0 4-4 12, Pursell 12 0 1-7 25, Green 0 0 0-0 0, Winters 5 1 0-0 13, Roberson 3 0 0-0 6, J. Smith 0 1 0-0 3, T. Smith 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-24, 3FG-2, FT-5-11, PF-18.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.

Guard Alex Kueker scored a game-best 26-points.

So it was fitting that the 6-foot-1 junior closed out the Musketeers first win of the season.

With the game tied at 48-all, Kueker drove down the lane and his lay in found the mark, beating both the buzzer and the Pilots for the two point win.

Red Bud and head coach CJ Cruser survived after leading 43-33 early in the fourth quarter.

The Pilots rallied with a 13-3 run to tie things up in the final minute.

With :14.3 left, the Musketeers took a time out and set up a last play.

The drive by Kueker sealed the win for a program that struggled mightily

Red Bud got eight points each from seniors Carter Wiegard and Jayden Birkner in the victory.

Head coach Larry Wood saw his Cairo club slip to 3-3 overall on the season and 2-2 in the tournament.

Six-foot-six senior Daurice Morse led the Pilots with 12 points while Cairo got eight points apiece from junior guard Dequavius Williams and junior forward Alton Hervey.

Kueker did his damage from the floor, hitting 10 2 point field goals and a pair of 3-pointers.

His 20 first half points gave the Musketeers a 34-22 halftime advantage.

Cairo rallied and were on the verge of a comeback win but they couldn't get the late defensive stops.

Morse scored 11 of his points in the final two quarters.

Red Bud

Red Bud (50)
– Amman 0 0 0-0 0, Koester 1 0 2-2 4, Simpson 0 0 0-2 0, Malott 1 0 0-0 2, Wiegard 1 2 0-0 8, Birkner 3 0 2-4 8, Cowell 1 0 0-0 2, Kueker 10 2 0-0 26, Grohman 0 0 0-0 0, Van Dorn 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-17, 3FG-4, FT-4-8, PF-12.

Cairo (48) – Davis 0 0 0-0 0, Jones 0 1 2-2 5, Howard 0 0 0-0 0, Williams 3 0 2-2 8, Brown 1 1 0-0 5, Wilkerson 2 0 0-2 4, Nelson 3 0 0-0 6, Harraza 0 0 0-0 0, MOrse 3 1 3-6 12, Hervey 3 0 2-2 8.
2FG-15, 3FG-3, FT-9-14, PF-7.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.