The history-making season continues as both the boys and girls basketball teams picked up sectional victories last night at Jackson High School. The boys escaped with a comeback win, 53-47 over Hayti and the girls struggled early but pulled away late to come out on top 73-54 against Puxico.
Both teams had to have someone step up when its normal leading scorer was being held in check and one produced a career-high and the other a season-high.
In the opener, for the boys, that someone was Cole Priggel. Despite taking a kick to the face early in the first quarter and ending up with quite a shiner, Priggel was the game's top scorer with 28, 16 over his normal average for his best scoring night ever.
The contest started out frigid for the Eagles on the offensive end against the Indians. They trailed early 10-3. But after an Oran timeout with 3:12 on the clock, the defense started to click. A Jacob Shoemaker runner in the lane and a turnover converted into a layup by Max Priggel, the Eagles led 15-12 after 1.
Oran led most of the second period until a late flurry by the Indians sent the Eagles to the locker room trailing 24-21.
In the second half, things were looking bleak as Oran trailed 35-30 heading into the final 8 minutes.
The deficit was 7, 37-30, in the fourth, when Max Priggel hit the first "3" of the night for the Eagles, that was followed by a Shoemaker trey and with 6:40 remaining, momentum had moved to the Oran side. Hayti called a time out and their lead had shrunk to 1.
The teams exchanged baskets for the next four minutes as Cole Priggel put the team on his back and carried them with several nice drives and a pull-up jumper.
Then, with 2:20 left, Layne Johnson crashed to boards for a tip-in to give the Eagles the lead 47-46. Hayti would score only 1 point from there on out. Cole Priggel went 6-6 from the line in the final two minutes and Oran picked up the 6 point win.
Of Coles' 28, 20 came during the second half while the rest of the team combined for 12. He was 8 for 8 on the night from the line. Max, who paces the team with a 20 point per game average, was the only other Eagle in double digits with 10. He hit the one three and made 5 of 6 free-throw attempts before fouling out with just under two minutes left.
Shoemaker finished with 7, including his one three-pointer. Johnson, who was in early foul trouble ended up with 6 and Drew Reischman rounded out the scoring with a field goal.
Wyatt Kinney, Luke Barnes and Todd Priggel played but none scored.
A very happy head coach Joe Shoemaker told the blog, "I thought the boys did a great job of fighting through a bad shooting night. This was our second worse shooting performance of the year."
"I was happy with the low number of turnovers we had and we did a decent job on the boards and I felt we really guarded and rebounded well at the end of the game."
"Once again the boys were very unselfish and found the hot hand in Cole Priggel, who had a heck of a game. He was the third different player to lead us in scoring in the last three playoff games." The other two were Shoemaker with 27 against Valle and Max Priggel with 29 in the game against Scott City.
As a team, Oran was 15-20 at the stripe for 75%.
The win puts the Eagles at 20-8 and continues the best season since the 2012-13 final four team.
Up next will be the defending class 2 champions, the 25-5 Hartville Eagles who were 40-37 winners over the Thayer Bobcats last night in their sectional at Mountain Grove High School. The contest will be at Three Rivers College. Game time is 1 pm.
In the nightcap, the Puxico Indians, whom the Eagles had defeated by 44 points earlier this season, came in with a game plan that focused on stopping Oran's leading scorer Leah Cauble. Two defenders were assigned to her in the front court. The measure stymied the Eagle offense early but with the double-team on Cauble that left no weak side help for the post, which made Jessie Long that someone. She hit for a season-high 24 as the offense went over the top.
Oran led 15-12 after the first period, just like in game one of the night. Long had 8 of those points.
The Eagles were able to expand its lead to 8 at halftime, 30-22.
Early in the third quarter, Puxico had cut the margin to 3, 30-27. But that was as close as they would get as Oran slowly expanded the lead to as much at 20 in the fourth and ended up winning by 19.
Coach Ethan Evans told the blog this morning, "I thought we had some girls step up big for us last night. We struggled offensively the first few minutes and that was due to their defense. They came in with a good game plan to take away Leah and we had to adjust. I was proud of the way the girls responded."
Long had a double-double. She grabbed a dozen boards to go along with her two dozen points on 10-15 shooting from the field and 4 of 6 from the line. Cauble, who averages 34.5 points per game, finished with 17 and was 5 of 6 at the free-throw line.
Kenzie Graviett had a season-high 7 off the bench and hit her only free throw. Brianna Stause also finished with 7, including a trey. She had 4 assists. Claire Ramsey had 6, she hit a "3". Kaylee Payne had 5 points and had a team-high 5 assists.
Stause, Ramsey and Payne each ended the game with four personal fouls apiece, as once again the Eagles struggled with foul problems.
Katelyn Streeter chipped in four and Madison "Mad Dog" Ramsey hit a big three-pointer in the fourth when it looked like the Eagles offense had gone stagnant.
Oran hit 58% from two (25-43) but only 19% from three (3-16). There were 14-25 from the line for 56%.
During the fourth quarter, the Eagles outscored Puxico 19-12. All 12 Indian points came from the free-throw line.
Oran continues to set new marks for the most wins in a season, they are now 26-3. They will face the defending state runner-ups, the 22-4 Neelyville Tigers in their first ever foray into the quarterfinal round. Neelyville defeated the Gainesville Bulldogs 68-51 in their sectional. The game will take place after the boys' on Saturday. Tip time is set for 2:45.