Christopher opens season with win
Garver, Pratt lead Bearcats to semifinals; Webber drops into consolation side
Wayne City advances past Waltonville

CHRISTOPHER – There were a lot of question marks heading into the Christopher Bearcats season opener against Webber Township at the 44th annual Christopher “Turkey” Tournament.

One of the questions that needed to be answered was who was going to step up help replace nearly 35-points a game missing from the two main graduated seniors from a year ago?

Bradley Young and Jared Curry both left the program last spring and they were the go-to guys for this club for the past two seasons.

At least for the first game of the season, the answer was sophomore guard Kye Garver and junior forward Bryce Pratt.

While both played important roles last winter, these two weren't expected to carry the scoring load in 2017-18.

On Monday night, this duo combined for 33-points as the Bearcats took care of business while taking a step towards defending their tournament championship with a 50-37 triumph over the Trojans.

Garver led the Christopher attack with 19-points, which included four 3-pointers.

Pratt did his damage in the paint as he added 14-points for Coach Eric Stallman's team who will now face Wayne City on Wednesday night in the championship semifinals.

While this was far from a perfect performance, the Bearcats played well enough on both ends of the floor to get the first victory of the season.

Five other Christopher players inked the scorebook with 6-foot-6 senior Gage Hawkins, despite early foul trouble, topping the rest with six-points.

“There are going to be some growing pains for us this season. We are going to have a lot of learning situations early it is going to take time,” said Coach Stallman. “It showed out there tonight. But after a slow start tonight we got some shots to fall. Garver got hot there and hit some shots and it opened things up inside for us.”

Webber Township and head coach Brad Beaty came into the opening game for his team in a similar situation as his counterpart.

His Trojans have a much different look heading into this season with nearly everyone missing from the 2017-18 regional title team.

“We really didn't know coming into tonight what we had. We have done things in practice and the kids have worked hard but you just don't know until you take the floor,” said Coach Beaty. “Tonight the effort was there. But we would play well and then we would have some breakdowns. For the most part, for most of our kids who hadn't seen a varsity floor as players, I'm pleased with it.”

Kaiden Taylor, a 6-foot-4 junior, was a bright spot for Webber Township on Monday night.

This forward tossed in a game-high 23-points but no one else wearing Blue and Gold scored more than six-points in the loss.

While the Trojans made a couple of runs during the contest, none of them added up to a victory on their opening night.

Early in the game, however, Webber used a zone defense that frustrated the Bearcats into a poor shooting first quarter.

Christopher missed seven 3-point shots in the opening stanza and they trailed 8-6 in the early stages.

But consecutive 3-pointers by Garver put the Bearcats back ahead.

His second one from the left corner with :05 left made it 12-8.

While Webber was down just four, things quickly got out of hand in the second quarter.

Christopher opened the frame with a 12-2 run.

It was spurned on by three consecutive Trojan turnovers, all of which were converted into points by the 'Cats.

Hawkins scored on a rebound bucket and then 5-foot-6 freshman Colin Sveda nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing.

A fast break off the third turnover forced Coach Beaty to burn a timeout down 19-10 with 6:18 left.

Pratt scored the next five points on a pair of free throws and then added a nice move across the lane with his left hand while being fouled by junior Peyton Hill.

His made free throw pushed the Bearcats to a 24-10 advantage.

Webber used a 6-0 run from Taylor, sophomore Hayden Landreth and junior Walker Hendrich each scoring buckets.

But Garver, as he did in the first quarter, nailed a 3-pointer on an assist from Pratt.

His 20-footer from the left corner with :06 remaining sent the teams to the half at 28-18 Christopher.

Webber entered intermission with seven turnovers and 8-of-18 shooting but were only down 10-points.

Coach Stallman's club opened the second half with an 11-4 move to give themselves the largest lead of the contest.

Garver scored twice, once on a nice cut to the basket and then on a drive down the middle of the lane.

Pratt finished the run with a spin move from the right blocks while being fouled by Taylor.

His made free throw with 2:47 remaining in the third quarter made it 39-21.

Some young teams at this point would “throw in the towel.”

But Coach Beaty's kids made a quick run to close the third.

Taylor netted three consecutive baskets; rebounding his own miss on one trip, scoring in the paint on the next trip which was followed by a nice mid-range shot.

The final seconds of the quarter got interesting as during a dead ball situation, Christopher senior guard Dalton Saeger was issued a technical foul.

Webber junior Dalton Adcock made the second of the two shot technical which cut the Webber deficit to just 39-28 at the end of the third.

The Trojans needed a big beginning of the fourth quarter to get back in the game.

They didn't get it.

The team's first six possessions of the fourth quarter resulted in five missed shots and a turnover.

The only basket for Webber in the first five minutes of the fourth came from Taylor inside again.

But it was a basket that was part of a 9-2 Bearcats run.

By the time Garver hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game and Pratt ended his scoring night on another spin move in the paint, Christopher led 48-30 with 3:40 remaining.

Webber managed a couple of late baskets and then a 3-pointer by Taylor closed the scoring as the Bearcats ran out the last 1:21 of the clock with Webber not fouling.

The Trojans were a respectable 14-of-28 from inside the arc, but were just 2-of-12 from beyond.

Taylor hit both of the 3-pointers and he ended up 2-4 from the arc and 10-of-19 overall.

But as a team they ended up 16-of-40 (40 percent).

Christopher ended up 18-of-43 overall and 5-of-14 from the arc.

“We have three starters back but they weren't our primary scoring options last season,” said Coach Stallman. “That (35-points a game) is a lot to replace. But we will get there.”

Webber could have made things much closer but they were just 3-of-9 from the foul line which Christopher was 9-of-10.

“I told the kids. Now we know what we need to work on and we can get back to practice and fix it,” said Coach Beaty. “These kids work hard and they never give up. I'm not disappointed about tonight. We just need to get back to work tomorrow at practice.”

Webber (0-1) will face Midland Trail Conference rival Waltonville (0-1) on Wednesday night at 6:15 pm which will be followed by the championship bracket semifinal.

“There are going to be some growing pains for us this season. We are going to have a lot of learning situations early it is going to take time,” said Coach Stallman. “It showed out there tonight. But after a slow start tonight we got some shots to fall. Garver got hot there and hit some shots and it opened things up inside for us.”

Webber Township

Webber Township (37)
– Taylor 8 2 1-2 23, Landreth 1 0 1-5 3, Heinrich 3 0 0-0 6, Hamerski 1 0 0-0 2, Buchanan 1 0 0-0 2, Hill 0 0 0-0 0, Adcock 0 0 1-2 1.
2FG-14, 3FG-2, FT-3-9, PF-12.

Christopher (50) – Sveda 0 1 0-0 3, Garver 2 4 3-4 19, Saeger 1 0 0-0 2, Motsinger 1 0 2-2 4, Pratt 5 0 4-4 14, Hawkins 3 0 0-0 6, Goins 1 0 0-0 2.
2FG-13, 3FG-5, FT-9-10, PF-10.

Fouled Out – Buchanan - Webber Township.
Technical Fouls – Saeger - Christopher.
The Indians held off Waltonville in the opening game of the tournament with 5-foot-9 freshman Taj McKinney netting 22-points in his first prep contest.

Travis Dickey, a 6-foot-1 junior, added 14-points for the win in the return to the high school sidelines for head coach Jim Corona.

Waltonville dropped its first contest of the season depite 16-points each from senior Jaylon Malone and junior Reagan Newell.

Wayne City

Wayne City (59)
– White 1 0 0-0 2, McKinney 4 3 5-6 22, Horton 2 0 0-3 4, Sledge 0 0 0-0 0, Miller 3 1 0-1 9, Durham 3 0 2-2 8, Dickey 1 2 6-6 14.
2FG-14 3FG-6, FT-13-18, PF-13.

Waltonville (50) – Cobb 0 0 0-0 0, R. Newell 5 2 0-0 16, Malone 2 4 0-4 16, Griffith 1 0 0-0 2, Haley 1 0 0-0 2, Tucker 0 1 1-2 4, Banach 4 0 2-5 10.
2FG-13, 3FG-7, FT-3-11, PF-15.

Fouled Out – Malone - Waltonville.
Technical Fouls – None.